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House votes to renew FISA spying tool after earlier Republican revolt

WASHINGTON — The House voted Friday to renew a powerful surveillance program, two days after a group of 19 conservative privacy advocates revolted against Republican leaders and blocked the bill when their demands failed. were not satisfied.

The vote was 273-147 and was mostly bipartisan, with both Republicans and Democrats voting in favor of the bill. Of those who supported the legislation, 126 were Republicans and 147 Democrats. That followed a dramatic vote to narrowly reject an amendment that would have required a surveillance mandate in more situations.

Earlier Friday, conservative rebels ended their blockade and allowed the bill to move forward after striking a deal with Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and his team. Under the agreement, the period for reauthorization of espionage powers – known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) – would be reduced to two years, from the originally proposed five years.

Republicans said it would give former President Donald Trump, who this week said he wanted to “kill” FISA, a chance to leave his mark on the law if he wins back the White House.

“We just brought President Trump to bat,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, a top Trump ally and one of the 19 rebels. “The previous version of this bill would have authorized reauthorization beyond the Trump presidency. Today, President Trump has the opportunity to fix the system that has victimized him more than any other American.”

Before the vote, Johnson set up a secure room just off the floor where lawmakers could review classified documents.

Conservatives also secured a floor vote on a bipartisan amendment led by one of the 19, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., that would require law enforcement to obtain warrants to search the communications of U.S. citizens and of permanent residents collected during the surveillance of foreigners. overseas. And Johnson agreed to hold a vote next week on a bill from Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, that would require the government to obtain a warrant to buy the private data of U.S. citizens from brokers.

“I’m disappointed with the current situation, but it was going to be worse,” Davidson said in an interview after voting Friday in favor of the procedural rule he helped tank two days earlier. “We don’t work in a think tank, we work in a legislature, so you progress where you can.”

The bill is expected to go to the Senate next week before the April 19 deadline to renew or terminate FISA Section 702. Some Republicans have blocked transmission to the Senate as they use a procedural move to try to force another vote on the entire bill.

The House vote’s success comes just hours before Johnson meets with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for an event on “election integrity”; GOP lawmakers said they expected FISA to be among the other issues they would discuss.

Strange bedfellows for the right to privacy

Before passing the bill, the House voted 212-212 on a bipartisan amendment proposed by a rare left-right coalition intended to curb the government’s use of warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens. A tie vote meant the amendment failed. In addition to Biggs, he was defended by Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and Davidson.

The White House fought to defeat the amendment, with Attorney General Merrick Garland and national security adviser Jake Sullivan calling lawmakers Friday morning to encourage them to vote against it, two sources familiar with the calls said.

Ultimately, 128 Republicans and 84 Democrats voted for the amendment. Johnson voted against it.

Officials told lawmakers they would prohibit the government “from accessing lawfully collected information already in its possession to identify and thwart critical threats to the American people,” according to talking points provided by a source to NBC News , who added that the measure would make the United States more vulnerable. “less secure”.

Nadler, in a rare clash with the Biden White House, called the FISA bill “completely inadequate” and said it “does not represent real reform” without the mandate requirement. After his speech, Jayapal, chairman of the Progressive Caucus, took the stage Friday to challenge the intelligence community’s arguments for the need for the current law, calling the changes a necessary balance between protecting security and civil liberties. She said Congress must end a “backdoor research loophole” that interferes with Americans’ privacy.

Jordan, in a moment of camaraderie with his usual enemies, said he wanted to “thank the Democrats” on his committee for “working together to defend a fundamental principle.”

But Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, sided with the White House and said passage of the amendment would mean that “the Chinese Communist Party, Hezbollah and Hamas could recruit fully in the United States.” a warrant would be required for the government to access their communications.

“We would go blind,” Turner said. “Our nation would not be safe.”

News Source : www.nbcnews.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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