BREAKING: Senate Lawmakers Pass FISA Reauthorization in Late-Night Vote -
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BREAKING: Senate Lawmakers Pass FISA Reauthorization in Late-Night Vote

In the early hours of April 20, the Senate voted to reauthorize a contentious surveillance authority that had expired briefly following a late-night series of votes.

The Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, which extends Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for two years, was approved in a 60–34 vote that wrapped up 45 minutes past the midnight Eastern Time deadline.

The legislation, which was approved by the House earlier this week, is now headed to President Joe Biden’s desk. Biden has described the program’s reauthorization as “critical” and is anticipated to promptly sign the bill into law.

The vote followed ongoing disagreements regarding the contentious surveillance program, prompting Senate leaders to to strike a deal on the rules of debate and amendments.

Legislators cast votes on a succession of amendments aimed at bolstering protections for civil liberties.

Yet, none of these proposals, which included an amendment by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) mandating a warrant for searching Americans’ Section 702 data and another by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) banning federal law enforcement from buying Americans’ data from third-party brokers, were approved by the Senate.

Partly, senators aimed to prevent the authority from lapsing, especially since the vote started less than four hours before its expiration deadline.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, urged fellow lawmakers at the beginning of the voting session to reject all amendments.

He argued that approving any amendments would hinder Congress’s ability to renew the program before its expiration, as House authorization would be required for any changes.

Mr. Paul, a prominent advocate for altering the program, countered, “We’ve had five years to do this,” alleging that backers of Section 702 deliberately waited until the last minute to renew the program without amendments.

Critics said its speedy reauthorization was critical for national security.

“The threats to American security are flashing red,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

“Our adversaries are as intent as ever on sowing chaos and violence, and a vote to send this critical legislation back to the House today is a vote to make their job easier. The Senate must not let Section 702 go dark,” he added.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-Ky.) voiced his frustration with the voting process for the bill, stating that it effectively prevented any Senate amendments from succeeding.

Before the final vote, he anticipated that none of the amendments, including his own, would be approved because of the rushed timing of the vote.

He informed The Epoch Times that the primary aim of the late-night vote was to guarantee that senators would be present the following day for a vote on a $95 billion foreign aid package, which was anticipated to pass the House on April 20 without much difficulty.

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