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Senate Passes Renewal Of FISA Section 702

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in the Capitol, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023 in Washington

Approximately 40 minutes after its expiration, the Senate voted to pass a renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This section is a crucial tool used by the government to collect intelligence on foreign subjects with the help of electronic communication service providers.

The upper chamber voted 60-34 to pass the re-authorization, preventing a potential lapse in government surveillance capabilities. If the renewal hadn't passed promptly, companies would not have been obligated to comply with the government's requests for surveillance assistance under the bill.

Without the re-authorization of FISA Section 702, the government would have been required to obtain a warrant for any such assistance, a process that can be time-consuming.

The measure now awaits President Biden's signature to become law.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell emphasized the importance of the authorities granted by the renewal, stating that they are crucial for national security defense.

Despite assurances from some lawmakers that the program would not be affected by a delay in renewal, the Department of Justice cautioned against potential disruptions in surveillance cooperation from companies.

After initial delays in the Senate, an agreement was reached on amendment votes and debate time, leading to an expedited voting process.

Bipartisan coalitions formed on both sides of the Section 702 renewal debate, with some highlighting its necessity for national security and others raising concerns about constitutional protections.

Several amendments proposed by senators were voted on but failed to pass, ultimately not being added to the final bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed relief at the breakthrough in the voting process, acknowledging the challenges faced in reaching an agreement.

In conclusion, the Senate's decision to renew Section 702 of FISA averted a potential lapse in critical surveillance capabilities, ensuring the continuity of intelligence gathering on foreign subjects.

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