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Democrats drop controversial surveillance amendment

House Democratic leaders have dropped plans to vote on a controversial amendment aimed at blocking law enforcement from accessing Americans' web browsing history that had threatened to scuttle a vote on reauthorizing three surveillance programs, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE's (D-Md.) office confirmed.

Support for the amendment, sponsored by Reps. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration Efforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Capitol Police chief announces resignation after pro-Trump riots MORE (D-Calif.) and Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit MORE (R-Ohio), has fractured over the last day, with progressive groups and lawmakers pulling support.

House lawmakers seeking the amendment initially pushed for language mirroring a measure offered by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWhat the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Hawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Hillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution MORE (D-Ore.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord MORE (R-Mont.) in the Senate that would require a warrant anytime law enforcement wanted to access web browsing data.

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The amendment that was ultimately submitted to the Rules Committee on Tuesday narrowed that protection to U.S. persons — something that would exclude individuals in the U.S. on green cards or other visas.

Wyden initially released a statement praising the Lofgren-Davidson measure, but pulled his support following comments from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLobbying from the center Glenn Greenwald warns against media censorship amid concerns over domestic terrorism Biden to keep Wray as FBI director MORE (D-Calif.), who was involved in developing the House amendment text. 

Schiff in a statement to reporters seemed to suggest that the measure would allow room for law enforcement to continue the collection of Americans' records as long as they are relevant to a foreign intelligence investigation, an issue that critics have said is left open to interpretation in the current amendment.

Multiple progressive groups — including Demand Progress and Fight for the Future — released statements Wednesday pushing lawmakers to vote against the amendment and underlying bill.

Asked during a press conference about the decision not to vote on the bipartisan amendment, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Sen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) acknowledged that it was under consideration, but "we decided that where the votes were, were to go with" the Senate bill.

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"We have to have a bill, and we have to have it signed. ... That bill in the Senate goes a long way and it is strongly bipartisan. ... We hope that it would be the bill that could get the signature of the president," she said.

It is not immediately clear whether dropping the amendment will give Democrats the votes necessary to push through the reauthorization package.

President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE tweeted Tuesday night that Republicans should oppose the underlying surveillance reauthorization bill because of alleged abuses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFormer lawmakers call on leadership to focus on unity Cheney spokesperson on Gaetz: 'In Wyoming, the men don't wear make-up' Biden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop MORE (R-Calif.) and Republican Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBoycott sham impeachment The Memo: Biden gambles that he can do it all Biden under pressure to deliver more COVID-19 shots MORE (R-La.) raised similar concerns during speeches on Wednesday.

A source said that Scalise and Trump spoke on Wednesday “and agreed that this bill should not move forward in the House in its current form."

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"We must get to the bottom of the abuses that took place under FISA. Period,” the source added.

Removing the amendment may also cost Democratic leadership progressive support for the bill.

Demand Progress, an influential internet rights group, slammed the decision to drop the amendment Wednesday.

"House leadership has chosen to advance a bill that fails to protect internet activity with a warrant, despite the express support of 61 Senators," Sean Vitka, the group's senior policy counsel, said in a statement.

"It would be unconscionable for the Democratic House to pass any PATRIOT Act reauthorization without critical privacy reforms that would pass the Senate.

--Jordain Carney contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:38 p.m.