Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the motion to recommit says ``promptly,'' because the bill needs to go back to committee immediately. Members were given almost no notice of what was going to be in this bill. There are many questions remaining about the text because it has not gone through the regular committee process.
This motion addresses a major problem created by the manager's amendment. Under existing law, court orders are required to conduct certain surveillance of illegal immigrants within the United States. Section 18 of the manager's amendment strips away any rights that illegal immigrants have under FISA, stating clearly that there will be ``no rights under the RESTORE Act for undocumented aliens.''
If that is really what the Democratic leadership wants to do, then we should ensure that the legislation does not treat terrorists more favorably than illegal immigrants. To fix this problem, the motion adds ``state sponsors of terrorism and their agents'' to section 18 [Page: H14060]
to ensure that they are treated equally. There is no reason that the law should provide greater protection to terrorists than to illegal immigrants.
Also, the motion preserves the ability of our intelligence community to conduct surveillance of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and other terrorist organizations to protect America from an imminent terrorist attack. When faced with a life-or-death situation, a ticking bomb, an imminent threat of attack, do we really want to subject intelligence agents to unnecessary legal hurdles in order to protect our country?
The RESTORE Act hinders our intelligence community's ability to collect foreign intelligence needed to prevent al Qaeda and other terrorists from attacking our country. It requires the government to obtain court orders to conduct surveillance of overseas terrorists. The implication of this requirement, Mr. Speaker, could be catastrophic.
Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra), who is the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee.
Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, the new manager's amendment that self-executed with a rule this morning included broad new language that would treat illegal immigrants differently than other threats to the homeland. This was a poorly conceived and ill-advised provision that has created a lot of confusion.
Through the day, when we discussed the rule this morning, as we had the debate tonight, I had a series of questions: Would this amendment allow surveillance against possible illegal aliens for law enforcement purposes? Would it allow surveillance to determine whether someone is an alien not permitted to be in or remain in the United States?
During the rule, I was told I would get the answers during general debate. During general debate there was nothing but silence.
If we take a look at the bill, for a month we have been dealing with a bill that provided protections and legal protections to terrorists. Overseas terrorists having access to the courts, having warrants, and those types of things were moved. Then today, at the last minute, or yesterday at the last minute, we get an amendment, a manager's amendment, that provides or, it appears, rips away any type of protection for another threat.
Is the majority saying that the threat to the homeland is greater for aliens, illegal aliens living in the United States, than state sponsors of terrorism? It appears that it does because they have 40 or 50 pages of protections and a paragraph of exceptions that says: ``No rights under the RESTORE Act for undocumented aliens.'' Many on our side may think that that is a good idea.
What this manager's amendment says very simply is if there are no rights under the RESTORE Act for undocumented aliens, maybe we should put that same provision in here for state sponsors of terrorism and agents of sponsors of terrorism. It's very clear. We think that if a threat to the homeland, as identified by the other side, are illegal aliens, perhaps it's also time that we recognize that state sponsors of terrorism pose the same type of threat to the United States.
Is the majority saying that illegal aliens are a greater threat to the United States than Cuba, than Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria? It appears from the bill that we have before us tonight that is exactly what they are saying, because they have 50 pages of protections and one page of exceptions.
Let's make sure that we treat illegal aliens the same way we treat North Korea and Cuba.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, here we are again at another one of these so-called motions to recommit. Approach them with great care. I strongly oppose this motion.
The minority has just made it clear that they are not seeking to change the bill; they are seeking to kill the bill. The tactic is getting pretty old in the House of Representatives. If they wanted to vote on their proposal today, they would have used the word, doesn't everybody know it now, ``forthwith,'' as I have suggested. But they have refused under well-established House rules and precedents.
Other words do not have that effect, even if they sound like they should. The minority used the word ``promptly.'' It's no accident that they chose that word. The authors of this motion know full well the effect of choosing this word, and so do we. That is why they chose it. They wanted to send the bill back to the graveyard, which is what will happen if this motion is adopted.
I would now yield to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Zoe Lofgren).
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I would note that the motion to recommit itself leads to a nonsense sentence, adding ``United States, a State sponsor of terrorism,'' to section 18. It's inexplicable nonsense. It also guts the bill.
On August 2, I rushed to the floor to say that we were passing a bill that was a terrible offense to the Constitution. It gutted the fourth amendment. This bill does not. Mr. Speaker, I urge its passage.
Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to yield to the distinguished chairman of the Intelligence Committee, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes).
Mr. REYES. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, this is a sham solution in search of a problem. This language is unnecessary, and it would kill this bill. The bill already states that this act and the amendments made by this act shall not be construed to prohibit the intelligence community from conducting lawful surveillance that is necessary, one, to prevent Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, or any other terrorist or terrorist organization from attacking the United States. It also provides the means to protect the United States, any
United States person or any ally of the United States from threats posed by weapons of mass destruction or other threats of national security.
Mr. Speaker, the answer to the ranking member's question about undocumented aliens, all they have to do is check section 235 and 287 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. This does not confer any additional rights not provided by the Constitution.
Mr. CONYERS. I thank the chairman.
I am really moved by the sudden concern for immigration rights that the other side has begun to display, to my surprise.
I yield now to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Harman).
Mr. WESTMORELAND. Mr. Speaker, is it not true that if indeed this motion passed, this bill could be reported back to the two respective committees to which it is designated and that the bill could be reported back to the House on the next legislative day?
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, would adoption of the motion to recommit promptly have the effect of suspending any of the committee or House rules which require certain numbers of days before action can be taken?
Mr. WESTMORELAND. Mr. Speaker, further parliamentary inquiry. Is it not true that different committees have different rules and that some committees have emergency rules where these bills can be brought back to the floor as early as the next legislative day?