Ian Welsh explains what happened tonight:
The FISA Cloture vote just passed. The Senate will now consider the motion to proceed with the bill, then they’ll head to the bill itself (corrected procedural details, h/t and thanks to CBolt). Various motions will be put forward to strip immunity, odds are they will fail. Then a number of the 80 who voted to restrict debate will vote against FISA so they can say they were against the bill. However this was the real vote, and the rest is almost certainly nothing but kabuki for the rubes.
Obama and McCain were both absent, as was Clinton. Unimpressive, but unsurprising, though I suppose I’m disappointed by Clinton (Obama has made it clear he didn’t intend to try and stop the bill.) Clinton and Obama will claim there was no point since it wasn’t close. But, with their leadership, it might well have gone the other way.
It wasn’t even close. We needed 41 votes to block the cloture motion on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but the vote went 80-15 against us.
Here is the roll call. I’m proud to say that Tom Harkin was one of the 15 who tried to stop this bad bill from reaching the Senate floor.
I have contempt for Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, who claimed to oppose the bill but voted yes on the cloture motion and did nothing behind the scenes to block this bill either.
He is acting like Joe Lieberman, who bragged about how he voted against confirming Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, even though he didn’t support the filibuster of that nomination.
Obama wasn’t there for the FISA vote tonight, and it’s disappointing that he didn’t publicly support the filibuster effort. See this post and this one comparing what he said last October about telecom immunity to what he has said about the FISA bill in recent days.
I don’t expect strong leadership from Obama if he does get elected president. He seems too cautious on this and many other issues.