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Senate Reaches Agreement to Pass FISA Reauthorization Before Deadline

FISA (Credits:

After a prolonged stalemate, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a breakthrough deal on Friday evening to vote on a package of amendments to a House-passed bill reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s (FISA) warrantless surveillance program.

This agreement puts the bill on track to pass before midnight, averting a lapse in the expanded surveillance powers authorized by FISA’s controversial Section 702, which was set to expire at the end of the day. The deal allows for a two-year reauthorization to appease conservative critics, shorter than the initial five-year proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Credits: The Hill)

Schumer announced on the Senate floor, “We have good news for America’s national security. Senators have reached an agreement that clears the way to approve FISA reauthorization tonight.”

Senators had expressed pessimism about reaching a deal earlier in the day, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warning, “We could go dark over the weekend.”

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the lead sponsor of an amendment to require warrants for reviewing Americans’ communications swept up in the 702 database, had not been approached about a potential agreement on amendments.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Credits: KTVZ)

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) urged colleagues to reject any amendments to the bill, cautioning that making changes at this late stage would require sending the bill back to the House, effectively killing it.

He emphasized, “Any amendment to this bill at this moment is the equivalent of killing the bill.” Warner warned that telecom companies have already notified the Department of Justice that they will stop complying with 702 if the bill expires, which would have severe consequences for national security.

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