Dozens Of GOP Senators Voted With Dems To Extend FBI Warrantless Surveillance Program


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Jason Cohen Contributor
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A total of 32 Republican senators voted with 33 Democrats to pass Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday, according to a tally.

If six of them had opposed a point of order against the NDAA, then FISA — a tool that intelligence officials have allegedly abused to surveil Americans — would not have passed, potentially expiring at the end of December. FISA has come under intense scrutiny amid allegations that the FBI has repeatedly abused it as it enables intelligence officials to surveil Americans without obtaining a warrant. (RELATED: FBI Agents Misused FISA Data To Surveil ‘Political Party,’ US Congressman, Audit Finds)

Only 17 Republicans voted for Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s attempt to remove the four-month extension for FISA, according to the tally.

Two bills to reform FISA had been expected to come to the House floor for a competing vote on Tuesday, but Republicans battled over it, leading to a cancellation late on Monday, The New York Times reported. As a result, FISA is currently passing with no reform and the bills probably will not face a vote until 2024.

The House Judiciary Committee put forward one of them — Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona’s Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act — that would sharply restrict the government’s authority under Section 702 by broadly requiring a warrant for searches of Americans, according to its text.

Conversely, the House Intelligence Committee has put forward a bill dubbed the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2023, that would alter the definition of “electronic service communications provider” to include ‘‘equipment that is being or may be used to transmit or store such communications.’’ This would include any entity or business that offers an internet connection, thereby drastically increasing surveillance authorities under FISA, according to experts.

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