04-20-2024, 1:37 PM

The Senate approves a bill renewing a crucial FISA surveillance authority shortly after its expiration

President Joe Biden signed a bill on Saturday that renews a critical surveillance authority following its passage by the Senate late Friday, averting a potential interruption in the contentious program.

The House passed the bill to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act late last week, and lawmakers voted 60-34.

Progressive and conservative senators' six amendments opposing sweeping spying capabilities and protecting Americans' civil liberties and privacy were defeated by the Senate. The Biden administration and FISA proponents cautioned that even a brief gap may slow information gathering.

Minutes after missing the midnight deadline, senators reauthorized FISA Section 702. If modifications were passed, the bill would have been sent back to the House, perhaps delaying the legislation.

After a battle between the U.S. intelligence establishment and an unprecedented alliance of progressive and conservative civil liberties organizations, the bill passed. The supporters contended that the powers are too broad and violate Americans' privacy.

After Trump called on Republicans to “KILL FISA” on Truth Social, conservatives revolted against the bill and put down a procedural vote last week, hurting House GOP leadership.

Leadership guided a modified surveillance bill to passage after that move cast doubt on its fate.

The bill's passage will keep the nation safe, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Saturday.

“This reauthorization of Section 702 gives the United States the authority to continue to collect foreign intelligence information about non-U.S. persons located outside the United States, while at the same time codifying important reforms the Justice Department has adopted to ensure the protection of Americans’ privacy and civil liberties,” Garland said.

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