[JURIST] US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) [official websites] said Wednesday that Democrats are willing to expand government surveillance over foreign communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text; JURIST news archive], but disagree with the White House over spending and "the involvement of the attorney general." The proposal was made last week by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell [official profile], who said that he hoped to make changes soon to add more flexibility to FISA. The Democrats indicated that they understand the importance of the changes, but a $23 billion budget dispute may stall negotiations concerning the amendments.
Last week, President George W. Bush said in his weekly radio address [transcript; recorded audio] that he wants to modernize FISA [JURIST report] to meet threats from terrorists who can now use cell phones and the Internet to communicate. The current proposal is not as broad as the amendments offered in April [JURIST report], which would have greatly changed the law. AP has more.