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Senate Approves Surveillance Bill Despite Controversial Debate on Privacy Issues – Indianapolis News | Weather Indiana | Indiana traffic

Washington (CNN) — The Senate voted late Friday to reauthorize a key oversight authority to prevent a lapse in the controversial program.

Lawmakers voted 60-34 to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act after the House of Representatives passed the measure late last week.

The House passed the bill after a new version was proposed for a two-year reauthorization instead of five, a change that helped calm conservatives who initially rebelled against the legislation. A two-year reauthorization would give former President Donald Trump a chance to overhaul the law if he wins the upcoming presidential election.

Congress faced a Friday deadline after authority for Section 702 was extended until that date as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Whether Congress could prevent this decline remained in question earlier in the day, as senators struggled to reach an agreement to renew the intelligence community’s most important surveillance tool.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had told lawmakers to be prepared to work this weekend, but by Friday evening he had reached a negotiated agreement to vote. “All day long we persevered and persevered and persevered hoping to make a breakthrough, and I’m glad we succeeded,” the New York Democrat said, referring to the stalled negotiations that threatened the program.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also pushed for passage of the FISA bill, which he said includes a number of changes to address past “abuses” by the FBI. The Kentucky Republican also warned that some critics of the bill were “raising fear” that the legislation would allow spying on Americans in coffee shops and other places and should be ignored.

Supporters argue that Section 702 is a crucial tool for ensuring national security, but it has come under scrutiny by some lawmakers over alleged abuse.

Under Section 702 of FISA, the government collects vast amounts of Internet and cell phone data on foreign targets. During that process, hundreds of thousands of U.S. records are collected incidentally and then accessed without warrant each year — down from the millions of such queries the U.S. government has made in recent years. Critics call these searches “backdoor” searches.

The trove of data, including much of U.S. Internet traffic, is intended to give U.S. intelligence agencies quick access to data on foreigners in other countries.

According to one study, it forms the basis of most of the intelligence the president looks at every morning and has helped the US monitor Russian intentions in Ukraine, identify foreign attempts to gain access to US infrastructure, expose foreign terrorist networks and thwart terrorist attacks in Ukraine. The United States.

The complicated politics surrounding the law have long united strange comrades: Some conservative Republicans have joined forces with progressive Democrats to push for reforms to the authority, while safety-oriented Democrats and Republicans have opposed major new restrictions.

On Friday, senators debated an amendment that would require the intelligence community to obtain court warrants for espionage. The program is currently without justification, largely because it targets foreigners and not Americans, but American citizens are swept up in surveillance when they interact with targets abroad. A similar amendment failed in the House of Representatives, but with a tied vote.

Another amendment in question came from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the Intelligence Committee. His amendment, which was co-sponsored by some of the chamber’s most liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, would create a new part of the program that he argued would lead Americans every day to help the government spy if they ” have access to equipment’. that is or may be used to transmit or store wired or electronic communications.”

Last week, in a setback for the Republican Party’s leadership in the House of Representatives, a group of conservatives initially rebelled against the bill and brought down a key procedural vote after Trump called on Republicans to “KILL FISA.” in a post on Truth Social.

That move left the measure’s fate in doubt, but leadership ultimately secured final passage of an amended version of the surveillance law.

This headline and story have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis contributed to this report.