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Congress wrestles over spying bill

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The bill passed by a vote of 293 to 129, with 105 House Democrats joining all but one Republican in favor of the bill and 128 Democrats, including most committee chairs, opposing it.

"This bill is a fig leaf, granting blanket immunity to the telecom companies for possibly illegal acts without allowing the courts to consider the facts or the law," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) of New York, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, in a statement after the vote.

Trolling the aisles during the vote. Rep. José Serrano (D) of New York, who opposed the bill, told colleagues voting for it: "Don't worry, government will give us back our freedoms later."

"I was in New York when the terrorists attacked the towers," he said afterward. "If they terrorize us into stepping on the Constitution and throwing it away, don't they win?"

On the Senate side, opponents of the House bill see little prospect of stopping it. "It's the election cycle that we're in," explained Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) of Connecticut. "Senators are thinking about November and January next."

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