At a State of the Union preview speech today at the National Press Club, Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a dramatic ultimatum to President Bush: either sign an extension of the Protect America Act (which sets conditions for the administration's warrantless surveillance) or "there will be no wiretapping."
"It's up to the president," Reid announced during a question and answer session. "Does he want the law? It's up to him." Reid said Bush needs to sign the extension to give more time for the Senate to reach a compromise on a new bill. Senate Republicans this week obstructed every effort for amendments to be made to the pending FISA legislation.
"If it fails, he can give all the speeches he wants, including the State of the Union, about how we've stopped things," Reid said. "If he does that, it's disingenuous, and it's not true."
Watch it (transcripts below):
Reid also blasted Senate Republicans for seeking to block a temporary extension of the current FISA law to allow for further debate.
The president has to make a decision. He's either going to extend the law, or he will...which is temporary in nature, or there will be no wiretapping.
We have worked very hard to try to come up with a way to proceed on this but it's up to the President.
The amendments that were offered in the Senate ... they would have passed. The majority of the senate favored these amendments.
They refused to allow us to vote on what we call "Title 1' which is a procedural aspect of this, and then they never even dreamed of our going to the second part, which is the retroactive immunity. Which is...there is real controversy over that and there should be a vote in the United States Senate as to whether or not there should be retroactive immunity. They won't give us one.
So again, it's up to the president. He can either continue the present law for an extended period of time, we would agree to two weeks, we would agree to a month, and we would agree to a longer period of time than that.
But it is up to the president. Does he want the law? It's up to him.
If it fails, he can give all the speeches he wants, including the State of the Union, about how we've stopped things, if he does that, it's disingenuous, and it's not true.