Apologies for the lack of updates since the drama went down in the Senate -- I was trying to get my facts straight before writing.
Here's where we stand right now to the best of my knowledge.
There will be a cloture vote at 4:30 on Monday. There are two potential outcomes here.
a.) Republicans get 60 votes. In which case, there will only be one amendment pending to the final bill, and that is Feingold/Dodd on blanket warrants, I believe. That will get tabled quite easily (much like Judiciary was today), and then the Intelligence Bill as we know it will get a a vote for final passage.
b.) We stop Republicans from getting 60 votes, and we're right back where we left off today -- with no agreement on whether or not there is a 50 or 60 vote threshold to pass amendments.
Why is this a big deal?
Well, because there are a number of amendments out there that would serve as "poison pills," forcing a presidential veto. One or two of those might even get 50 votes (Feinstein's call to make FISA the exclusive means of electronic surveillance).
It's also worth noting that Dodd will object to any requirement that 60 votes be needed to pass an germane amendment, which would further muck up and extend the process.
Finally, I am hearing that we will have the votes necessary to stop the invocation of cloture, if only on the grounds that there has been no debate or opportunity by colleagues in the Senate to offer amendments.
But that's when it gets even more interesting ...
Monday is the State of the Union, and you can be sure this will be a major topic of the speech. If one were cynical, they might conclude that Republicans wanted the President to go into the speech without a FISA revision for political purposes.
What's more ... without an extension, this thing goes black on the 1st -- that's next Thursday.
If we are able to ward off the cloture vote, there is almost no way in hell a bill gets passed before that deadline. None. Not with all the amendments, debate, and Dodd filibuster pending. Which makes it all the more likely that one of two more things will happen.
a.) There will be an extension of some kind. Maybe a month, maybe two weeks ... we shall see.
b.) We have a real showdown on our hands: No bill has been passed because Dems don't want to eavesdrop on terrorists vs. Republicans think its more important to give telecoms a free ride than to eavesdrop on terrorists.
Even more drama? Ok. Presidential style ...
Everyone is going to be in D.C. for the State of the Union Address, that is a given. Which means, Obama and Clinton will actually have to vote (that's novel!). What's more, they can show some real leadership by convincing their endorsers in the Senate (McCaskill, Nelson, Bayh) who voted to table Judiciary to stop the Republicans on Monday.
And if Republicans do manage to get sixty votes, a filibuster is certain to ensue in the subsequent 30 hours. Which of them will stick around into the next day to support that effort?
So, that's what I think I know right now. Will update with any additional information.