The United States Senate voted to reauthorize a surveillance tool early Saturday morning, despite objections from conservative and left-wing members.

The bill to reauthorize Section 702 passed by a 60-34 vote after six amendments were defeated. Support and opposition crossed party lines, with 17 Democrats and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont joining 18 Republicans in voting no. Opponents cited privacy concerns, The Wall Street Journal reported.

 

The bill previously passed the House of Representatives after an amendment to require a warrant failed on a 212-212 tie vote, with House Speaker Mike Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise among those voting it down. A similar amendment was defeated by a 50-42 vote in the Senate that crossed party lines.

“It is indispensable to the work of the men and women of our intelligence community,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia claimed during a speech on the Senate floor, saying that Section 702 is used “to thwart terrorist attacks, track foreign spies, uncover economic espionage, protect U.S. troops, expose human and drug trafficking, prevent sanctions evasion, and disrupt foreign cyberattacks.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act drew controversy after the FBI obtained warrants under the act to monitor communications by Carter Page and other associates of former President Donald Trump during Trump’s successful 2016 campaign for the White House. The application relied on evidence from the now-discredited Steele Dossier.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) issued an opinion in June 2022 stating that the FBI improperly used powers granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to gather information on an unnamed United States Senator and other officials after a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), according to Just The News.

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