U.S. House Finally Passes Controversial Surveillance Bill After Multiple Failures

(RepublicanNews.org) – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a hotly debated bill that seeks to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Section 702. Having passed the Republican-controlled House, it now moves to the Senate, over which the Democrats exercise a very slim majority.

The Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner, told reporters that the government would “go blind” on April 19th if the bill was not passed, as April 19th marks the date of expiration for the bill’s current term. While the bill is expected to pass through the Senate on a bipartisan basis, it has also been subject to heavy bipartisan criticism during its journey through the chambers.

The bill, which has been fought by both hardline Democrats and Republicans, renews an intelligence-gathering program that was introduced in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks by Al Qaeda. The bill’s duration now only lasts for two years, at which point it must be voted on once more, whereas in previous years it could run for five years before needing renewal. The program allows the harvesting of communication data relating to foreign nationals, which can then be examined by agencies such as the FBI without the need for a warrant. Despite the U.S. Constitution ensuring the right to privacy for all Americans, critics have observed that the program often captures communications between foreign nationals and American citizens.

Critics have tried to block or change the bill, including one attempt to introduce an amendment that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before examining the data. This amendment narrowly failed to pass after a 212-212 tied vote on Friday, April 12th.

In a memorandum released before the vote, the Biden administration warned that the amendment would constitute a “threat to national security” and claimed that hostile foreign powers would be watching the vote closely, hoping for it to pass. The failure of the amendment has angered critics such as Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, who decried the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct “warrantless surveillance” on American citizens and denigrated the GOP’s House Speaker Mike Johnson for voting against the amendment.

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