Foreign Surveillance Bill Advances in Congress

House Aims to Pass Revised Surveillance Bill as Deadline Looms

House leaders intend to take another stab next week at advancing a long-term extension of a program for conducting foreign surveillance that is about to expire, but there are opponents on both sides of the aisle.

A key issue has been demands by some lawmakers for more stringent limits on when officials can access Americans’ communications incidentally caught in the foreign surveillance. The Trump administration and the intelligence community want to preserve the program as is.

Republicans on Friday released a revamped measure to make changes to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, or FISA. The program allows the National Security Agency to intercept calls or emails from suspected foreign terrorists outside the U.S.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the measure on Wednesday, when it could be advanced to the House floor for a vote.

The existing language was set to lapse at the end of 2017. However, party leaders’ efforts to address some of the demands for changes sputtered in December and the current version was temporarily extended through Jan. 19. The aim was to allow more time for negotiating, explaining the bill to members, and rounding up enough votes from both parties needed for passage.


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