Senate Passes, Biden Signs FISA Reauthorization

Jimmy Williams

On Saturday, President Biden signed legislation that renewed a crucial U.S. surveillance law. The move comes amidst debates regarding whether the FBI should face limitations on accessing Americans’ data through the program, a disagreement that almost led to the law’s expiration.

The Senate voted to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by two years just hours earlier, a move praised by Biden as vital for national security.

The legislation, which passed the Seante with a 60-34 vote, faced opposition from both progressive and conservative senators who raised concerns about its impact on civil liberties.

In a last-minute effort, senators proposed six amendments to address the broad scope of surveillance powers granted by Section 702. However, these amendments were defeated, and the bill was sent to President Biden for approval. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized the importance of maintaining FISA to combat terrorism, drug trafficking, and violent extremism.

The House had previously passed a two-year renewal of FISA, but not without controversy. A narrow vote rejected an amendment that would have required warrants to search communications collected from Americans during foreign surveillance operations. Senators delayed their vote on the renewal to consider amendments aimed at modifying the bill.

Critics, including Senator Ron Wyden, voiced concerns about the expansive nature of the legislation. They highlighted provisions that could compel individuals, such as cable technicians, to assist in government surveillance without recourse. Senator Patty Murray opposed the bill, citing worries about potential abuse and infringement on Americans’ rights.

However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner defended the bill, arguing that it addressed critical intelligence gaps while excluding certain establishments from surveillance. He reassured critics that the legislation would not allow the government to force individuals, like janitors, to spy for intelligence purposes.

Supporters of the reauthorization, such as Senator John Cornyn, stressed its importance for national security. Attorney General Merrick Garland also endorsed the extension, describing Section 702 as indispensable for collecting foreign intelligence while protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

Despite the contentious debate, the Senate ultimately voted to reauthorize FISA, averting what some feared would be a dangerous lapse in vital surveillance capabilities.

About J. Williams

Check Also

Rep. AOC

Ocasio-Cortez Calls for Senate Probe of Alito Insurrection-Linked Flags

Julia Conley, Common Dreams Urging Democratic lawmakers to use the power they currently hold in …

Leave a Reply