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House OKs Foreign Surveillance Program; Senate Vote Next

11 January 2018

"This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land", Trump said in a morning tweet.

The White House, in a statement released Wednesday night by press secretary Sarah Sanders, said the Trump administration opposed the Amash-Lofgren bill and "urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISA's Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives".

"It's well known that he has concerns about the domestic FISA law".

Hours after President Donald Trump roiled the waters on Capitol Hill by criticizing a surveillance tool used by U.S. Intelligence, lawmakers in the House joined in a bipartisan vote to reauthorize part of the law which lets spy agencies gather information on overseas foreign intelligence targets.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, seized on the two tweets by moving to postpone the vote "in light of the irresponsible and inherently contradictory messages coming out of the White House today". The Senate must still pass the bill before it is sent to the White House for the president's signature.

"It's hugely important that all of us here in this body remember and recognize that we will be held accountable if we end up in a situation again where we have put those walls back up, where we have made it tougher for law enforcement, for our intelligence community to connect the dots", Wyoming congressman Liz Cheney said during the rules hearing. "Abouts" collection occurs when communications that mention a target-the surveillance includes information about an individual-are swept up in addition to those to or from a target. "The Constitution really isn't guaranteed to everyone around the world, it's guaranteed to us here", he said. They argued that restrictions on the use of Americans' data in the Nunes bill are so narrow and allow so many exceptions that they're virtually meaningless.

The fight over a key surveillance authority is pitting House committees against each other and fueling intraparty tension, as lawmakers dive into the debate over the power's renewal this week.

Civil liberties groups fear that the government can use that data to go after Americans for crimes such as tax evasion or minor drug offenses that have nothing to do with terrorism.

Intelligence officials have so far refused to tell Congress how many unknowing Americans have had their personal communications collected under the program.

"The administration has voiced support for reauthorization but I think the president indicated to me that he believes that any reauthorization should have significant reforms", Paul said.

His arguments echoed concerns that requiring a warrant even in cases directly related to national security - rather than other types of criminal investigations - would put up risky barriers to communication between United States intelligence agencies.

Section 702 allows the NSA to eavesdrop on vast amounts of digital communications from foreigners living outside the United States through USA companies such as Facebook Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google. Though they would not have the force of law, Nunes has said he would still support renewing the program.

The HPSCI-backed bill requires the FBI to obtain a court order before viewing Americans' information in a non-foreign intelligence search, conducted "in connection with" a later-stage, or predicated, criminal investigation.

House OKs Foreign Surveillance Program; Senate Vote Next