NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle
The Senate narrowly voted to begin winding down debate over legislation renewing government surveillance powers, defeating a filibuster by privacy hawks.
Senators voted 60-38 to wrap up debate on the legislation, which cleared the House last week and extends the surveillance program with only a few small changes.
The program, absent congressional action, is scheduled to expire on Jan. 19.
The vote initially appeared in jeopardy as leadership hovered below the 60-vote threshold needed for more than an hour.
A group of privacy hawks, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), was spotted talking with Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who had yet to vote. He then went to speak with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who both support the legislation, and ultimately voted to end debate.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) also showed up after 7 p.m. and voted “yes,” giving leadership their 60th vote.
Overcoming the procedural hurdle clears the way for a final vote as soon as Wednesday, depending on whether or not opponents of the legislation allow any of the remaining 30 hours to be yielded back.
The privacy hawks, aided by Democratic leadership, mounted an effort to filibuster the legislation in an effort to give lawmakers more time to try to change the legislation.
“I rise in opposition to the government listening to your phone calls, reading your emails, or reading your text messages without a warrant,” Paul said ahead of the vote.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect texts and emails of foreigners abroad without a warrant, even when they communicate with Americans in the U.S.
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