December 1st, 2012 9:22 am | by OLGA KOZINSKIY News | Posted In: Congress, Legislature, Politics

Ron Wyden Continues to Fight Spy Bills

Ron WydenWYDEN

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is waging a fight against two legislative priorities of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in a disagreement over the reach of government when it comes to intelligence and surveillance.

In fact, reports Roll Call, Wyden has put a hold on "every major bill coming out of her [Senate] Intelligence Committee in the past two years."

The Capitol Hill newspaper has the latest about his most recent efforts, including putting a hold on a spy agency reauthorization measure, which is aimed at cracking down on leaks and extending expiring surveillance provisions from a 2008 law.

Roll Call talks about the uneasy friendship between Wyden and Feinstein as the Oregon Democrat makes it difficult for her to push agenda from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs and which he sits on.

"Feinstein also emphasized her friendship with Wyden and said they have usually sorted out their differences," Roll Call says. "But that doesn’t mean the chairwoman of the Intelligence panel likes watching him slow her committee’s agenda. The 2008 law’s surveillance provisions, for instance, are set to expire at the end of 2012."

The Roll Call story also says Wyden has become a favorite of civil liberties groups.

Roll Call reports:

The holds he has placed on national security bills are not motivated by an urge just to arbitrarily block them, said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Constitution Project.

“It’s very helpful for him to raise the profile and ask the Senate to not rush consideration of these bills when there are very serious civil liberties concerns,” Franklin said. Wyden’s hold on the extension of the 2008 surveillance law means the Senate will have to set aside floor time to debate the bill and consider amendments, a move Wyden said he welcomed.

Because of his state’s political demographics, a mix of urban liberalism and rural libertarianism, Wyden can be aggressive in his defense of civil liberties without facing loud charges from constituents that he is “soft on terrorism,” said Jake Weigler, who managed Wyden’s 2010 reelection campaign and now works for the public affairs firm Strategies 360.

“He grew up with those values, but sees them reflected in his home state,” he said. “It allows him to be more outspoken than senators in other states where it would be a political liability.”

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