Senate Passes FISA Reauthorization Despite Bipartisan Opposition

The Senate just reauthorized that ol’ FISA spying program in a dramatic showdown that had all the tension of a TV courtroom drama. Picture this: a bipartisan group of privacy hawks popped up, all, “Whoa, hold up, let’s not move too fast on this one,” and the party leadership had to sweet talk them with some extra votes. The proposed amendments to the law got shot down faster than a spitball in class, and the bill passed in a 60-34 vote right before the midnight deadline.

This whole ordeal was like a tug of war between an unorthodox bunch of conservatives and progressives who couldn’t agree on the limits of government snooping. They sure made a ruckus that threatened to delay the whole shebang until next week. The bill, which already cleared the House, is now off to President Joe Biden’s desk for a signature. 

The opposition to the bill wanted the government to get a warrant before poking around in the data of us citizens caught up in foreign surveillance. There was also a big fuss about new language in the bill that watchdogs warned about, saying it could make even more service providers bend over backward for surveillance requests. These amendments got shot down after some intense negotiations — not a single one got more than 42 votes. 

The drama in the House was a full-on showstopper, too. Hard-line Republicans didn’t like the idea of no warrant requirement, so they chucked a wrench in the works by forcing the Speaker to trim the reauthorization from five years to two. Then they voted on the warrant amendment, and it was a tie! Can you believe it? The White House wasn’t about to let this bill get altered, and they went all in to stop any changes. The national security adviser was all, “Nah, that Turner amendment won’t make a peep.” But Senator Wyden didn’t hold back, saying the government could even bring in your cable guy to spy on you. 

Now, the spy court that keeps an eye on FISA extended the government’s spying powers earlier, so there won’t be a shutdown just yet. But the Justice Department had a big ol’ panic attack, warning that a snooze on this could cause legal chaos. The bill does have some little changes to protect our Fourth Amendment rights, but the privacy hawks aren’t too jazzed about ’em.


Written by Staff Reports

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