The House on Thursday approved 256-164 a bill to reauthorize provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for another six years, putting the measure in the Senate's hands. Rather than demanding that the FBI and NSA get warrants before they access Americans' private data and communications, it does the opposite: It gives the feds formal permission to snoop on citizens for a list of federal crimes without getting a warrant first. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the Senate and by Amash, Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in the House.
More than 50 House Democrats joined a majority of Republicans to shoot down an amendment that would have reined in US spying powers on Thursday, allowing a controversial surveillance reauthorization to pass with only minor reforms.
In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump called into question his own administration's position on the reauthorization of a program that allows the government to conduct foreign surveillance on USA soil, also known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008.
By midmorning, in a follow-up tweet, the president appeared to step back from supporting the limits that his own administration has been encouraging lawmakers to reject. Several ranking Democrats openly supported increasing the powers of a surveillance state, even under a president they loathe.
Republicans seemed undeterred by Democrats' demands, plowing ahead with planned votes on the bill and a sole amendment to it Thursday morning. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was spotted in a House cloakroom talking to members before the vote in a last-minute lobbying push.
Critics say the bill actually expands government powers to spy on Americans. "Of course there was confusion, Republicans on capitol hill said there was confusion, and that's the very reason why President Trump felt the need to send out the second tweet to clear up the confusion", the host explained.
"Section 702 was written to go after terrorists, but it is being used to go after Americans", Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said Thursday morning on the House floor.
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Almost two hours after his first tweet, Trump backtracked. "We need it! Get smart!" he said in a post. Trump wrote on Twitter.
GOP leaders and the intelligence community are fighting to preserve the government's flexibility to act under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs collection of communications from foreign targets. The move follows unsubstantiated charges by President Donald Trump that his predecessor's administration spied on his campaign and improperly "unmasked" the identities of his associates during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition.
He was referring to an explosive and largely uncorroborated dossier that details claims about ties between Russian Federation and Mr. Trump and his aides.
It was an apparent attempt to get back on the same page with his own administration, which backs the so-called 702 program up for renewal in a House vote Thursday.
Help close the backdoor search loophole, by requiring warrants for searches of Section 702-collected data that belongs to Americans.
It wasn't the first time that the House has flirted with additional hurdles before the government can obtain information on Americans.
As the tweet buzzed in notifications from Capitol Hill to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Trump's advisers hurried to draft a follow-up that might help preserve the administration's position in support of the act's reauthorization.