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Allowing government access to Americans’ data without a warrant gets closer

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(The Center Square) – Controversial action allowing the government to access Americans’ data without a warrant got an indication of favorability Thursday in the U.S. Senate, helped by North Carolina Republicans Thom Tillis and Ted Budd.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has created more intra-party division than any other in quite some time, about as far from party-line politics on a hot-button topic as the 118th Congress has been. The House of Representatives last week is not much different than the Senate this week.

North Carolina’s 14 House members were split 8-6, the majority of both parties favoring prohibition of such surveillance tactics. It was evenly four Republicans and four Democrats for it, and three Republicans and three Democrats against it.

Thursday’s 67-32 vote was on a motion to proceed to the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, the action on the table to renew the 1978 act known as FISA. Friday night is the deadline, and it is possible there could be an expiration and resumption during or after the weekend.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the majority leader, promised to try and get votes done before the deadline. The act already has been changed from a five-year renewal to two.

Thirteen Democrats and one independent senator caucusing with them voted nay on Thursday. Thirty Republicans were yeas.

FISA, according to the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, “regulates certain types of foreign intelligence collection including certain collection that occurs with compelled assistance from U.S. telecommunications companies.”

An amendment prohibiting warrantless surveillance of Americans was a point of contention and ultimately failed 212-212 before the House sent over the legislation. Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act passed the House 273-147.

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