Senate Sends FISA Reauthorization Bill To Biden’s Desk After Late Night Vote
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: People walk along the east front plaza of the US Capitol as night falls on December 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. The House Rules Committee is holding a full committee hearing to set guidelines for the upcoming debate and vote on the two Articles of Impeachment of President Trump in the House of Representatives.
Credit: Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images.

The Senate passed a two-year extension of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows federal agents to obtain the online communications of foreign nationals without a warrant, late Friday night in a 60-34 vote. 

The debate on the renewal of Section 702 pitted those who said it was essential to national security against those who were worried about the potential for Americans to be surveilled. Senators who voted in favor included 30 Republicans, 28 Democrats, and two independents, while 16 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and 1 independent voted against. 

The measure was supported by both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“The stakes of such an outcome are grave,” McConnell said. “The authorities in question today have, quite literally, been the only defense against would-be national security disasters.”

Schumer said passage was necessary for American national security. “It wasn’t easy, people had many different views, but we all know one thing: letting FISA expire would have been dangerous. It’s an important part of our national security to stop acts of terror, drug trafficking, and violent extremism,” he said.

On the other side, lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) argued that there should be a warrant requirement if the communications of Americans are caught up in the surveillance of a foreign national. 

Previous reports have indicated that the FBI has inappropriately used FISA over 278,000 times to collect information about American citizens, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said that the FBI searched for information on an unidentified U.S. senator using Section 702 powers. 

“Yet again the Senate was asked to consider the question: can liberty be exchanged for security? And sadly the majority of Senators said yes it can,” Paul said after his amendments failed. “Final FISA reauthorization passed once again.”


Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said there were not enough protections in place for American citizens. 

“The Department of Justice’s abuses of FISA to spy on American citizens and their communications are unacceptable and contrary to the intent of the protections enshrined in our Fourth Amendment,” he said. “The prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure can’t be taken for granted.”

Earlier this week, the House passed its reauthorization of FISA after a similar warrant amendment stalled 212-212. Lawmakers eventually voted 259 to 128 to advance the legislation. 

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation as his administration has pushed lawmakers to renew Section 702.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Senate Sends FISA Reauthorization Bill To Biden’s Desk After Late Night Vote