The bill (.pdf) could be voted on as soon as Friday in the House, given its backing by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who in February organized a high-stakes showdown with the president over a substantially similar bill. The Senate would likely also quickly pass the bill, despite already vocal opposition from the ACLU, left-leaning bloggers, as well as Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)...Link
Additionally, the bill grants amnesty to the nation's telecoms that are being sued for allegedly breaking federal wiretapping laws by turning over billions of Americans' call records to government data-mining programs and giving the government access to internet and phone infrastructure inside the country. The bill strips the right of a federal district court to decide whether the companies violated federal laws prohibiting wiretapping without a court order.
Instead, the attorney general would need only certify to the court either that a sued company did not participate, or that the government provided some sort of written request to the companies that said that the president authorized the program and that his lawyers deemed it to be legal. That would be presented to federal district court Judge Vaughn Walker, who is overseeing the more than 40 consolidated cases against the telecoms. Walker's authority would be limited to judging whether the preponderance of the evidence is that the companies did get a written request, and if he finds that to be true -- as the Senate Intelligence Committee has already publicly stated -- he must dismiss the cases.
Update: Tim from EFF sez, "The Senate vote will probably be sometime next week, could be as early as Tuesday. Folks can contact their Senator here"
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.