March 13, 2008
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports the Senate version of H.R. 3773, the "FISA Amendments Act of 2008," passed by a bipartisan vote of 69-29, and urges you to oppose the anticipated House amendment to the legislation. The House amendment would, among other things, eliminate provisions providing immunity for telecommunications providers. The Chamber believes that the immunity provision included in the Senate-passed bill provides necessary, appropriate, and targeted relief commensurate with the threat to national security that arose in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
The Chamber represents companies across various industries that own or operate vital components of the nation's critical physical, virtual, and economic infrastructures. The federal government continually depends upon such industries for cooperation and assistance in national security matters, including homeland security programs and activities. The government also turns to these companies in times of crisis, when the speed, agility, and creativity of the private sector can be critical to averting a terrorist attack.
The Chamber firmly believes that the Senate provision on immunity for telecommunications providers is imperative to preserve the self-sustaining "public-private partnership" that both Congress and the Executive Branch have sought to protect the United States in a post-September 11 world. Therefore, the Chamber also supports an alternate bill, H.R. 5440, the "FISA Amendments Act of 2008," which includes such a provision. The Chamber encourages you to consider the effects on the nation's security should private sector involvement be muted and relegated to the sidelines in instances when industries can help the government protect this nation.
For this reason, the Chamber urges you to oppose the House amendment to H.R. 3773 because it would eliminate the Senate provisions providing immunity for telecommunications providers. The Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, H.R. 3773 in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten