Senate votes to extend NSA spying program

Senate votes to extend NSA spying program
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The Senate on Thursday passed an extension of a government surveillance program, sending the bill to President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE's desk.

Senators voted 65-34 on the bill, which includes a six-year extension with minimal changes to the National Security Agency (NSA) program.

The vote comes after a tension-filled hour on the Senate floor earlier this week. Opponents tried, but failed, to mount a filibuster to force additional debate on the legislation, with both sides spotted lobbying key holdouts.

And opponents rallied against the bill ahead of Thursday's vote, arguing the legislation is being rushed through.

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"The American people deserve better than the legislation before us. ... The American people deserve better than warrantless wiretapping," said Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Defense: Dems aim to block use of defense funds for wall | Watchdog issues new warning on Syria withdrawal | Trump wants to 'watch Iran' from Iraq Senate Dems introduce bill to block Trump from using military funds to build wall Puerto Rico statehood supporters pin hopes on House action MORE (D-N.M.).

He added that senators should "consider the gravity of the issues at hand and to oppose reauthorization until we can have a real opportunity for debate and reform."

But the legislation, which also cleared the House last week, appeared likely to pass.

Supporters only needed 51 votes on Thursday, giving them more breathing room, compared to the 60 votes needed on Tuesday's procedural hurdle.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Trump selects Kelly Craft for United Nations ambassador Union leader says Green New Deal would make infrastructure bill ‘absolutely impossible’ MORE (R-Ky.) urged his colleagues to back extending the program ahead of Thursday's vote, calling it "one of the most important tools" for national security officials.

"The men and women we trust to protect this country say this capability is essential to their missions. They tell us that is has saved American lives. That is why we cannot let this capability lapse. The world remains dangerous," he said. 

The law, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allows the NSA to collect texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant, even when they communicate with Americans in the U.S.