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Senate Votes To Reauthorize Key Surveillance Authority

U.S. Senate U.S. Senate Democrats weekly policy lunch at U.S. Capitol in Washington

The Senate voted late Friday to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, avoiding a lapse in the controversial program. Lawmakers voted 60-34 in favor of the reauthorization after the House passed the measure last week.

The House's decision to pass the bill came after a new version was proposed for a two-year reauthorization instead of five years. This change helped appease conservatives who had initially opposed the legislation. A two-year reauthorization would allow former President Donald Trump to potentially overhaul the law if he wins the upcoming presidential election.

Congress faced a deadline as the authority for Section 702 was set to expire, but the reauthorization was successfully completed in time. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell played key roles in pushing for the passage of the bill.

Section 702 of FISA allows the government to collect internet and cell phone data on foreign targets, with incidental collection of Americans' information. Supporters argue that this tool is crucial for national security, while critics have raised concerns about potential misuse and privacy violations.

The politics surrounding the reauthorization have brought together unlikely allies, with conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats both advocating for reforms. Amendments were proposed, including one that would require court warrants for spying, but the program currently operates without warrants as it primarily targets foreigners.

Despite initial challenges and debates over amendments, the Senate ultimately reached an agreement to reauthorize Section 702, ensuring the continuity of this surveillance program.

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