Surveillance Bill Clears Key Hurdle in Senate Ahead of Friday Expiration

The Senate on Thursday agreed to move ahead with a two-year reauthorization of an expiring warrantless surveillance law, rushing to pass the legislation before a Friday deadline when the statute is set to lapse.

The bill would extend a provision known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that intelligence officials say is critical to collecting data and communications to target terrorists. The House passed it last week but it still must overcome several procedural obstacles in the Senate, where some members are pushing for major changes, before a final vote.

On Thursday, it cleared its first key hurdle when the Senate voted 67 to 32 to push it forward.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said he was trying to negotiate a deal with Republicans that would allow for votes on proposed changes and passage of the legislation before the Friday deadline.

“Democrats and Republicans are going to have to reach an agreement if we want to get FISA reauthorization done before the deadline,” Mr. Schumer said on Wednesday. “Otherwise, this very important tool for ensuring our national security is going to lapse, and that would be unacceptable.”

The measure — which would allow the government to continue collecting the messages of noncitizens abroad without a warrant, even when those targeted are communicating with Americans — has split both parties. While it enjoys backing from Republicans and Democrats, it is strongly opposed by libertarians on the right and progressives on the left who are deeply skeptical of granting the government broad spying powers without strict oversight and limits.

Back to top button