The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, overcoming objections from privacy advocates and confusion prompted by morning tweets from President Donald Trump that initially questioned the spying tool.
The legislation, which passed 256-164 and split party lines, is the culmination of a years-long debate in Congress on the proper scope of U.S. intelligence collection – one fueled by the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Reuters reports in an article.
Senior Democrats in the House had urged cancellation of the vote after Trump appeared to cast doubt on the merits of the program, but Republicans forged ahead. The Senate will hold a procedural vote on the bill next week after it returns from a break, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday.
“The intelligence community and the Justice Department depend on these vital authorities to protect the homeland and keep Americans safe,” McConnell, a Republican, said in a statement.
The White House, U.S. intelligence agencies and Republican leaders in Congress have said they consider the surveillance program indispensable and in need of little or no revision.
“This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” the president wrote in a tweet.
After the vote Thursday, Ryan, asked about his conversation with the president, said Trump’s concerns regarded other parts of the law.
“It’s well known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law. That’s not what we’re doing today. Today was 702, which is a different part of that law. … He knows that and he, I think, put out something that clarifies that,” Ryan told reporters.