The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to renew a contested surveillance law, moving it a step closer to full reauthorization — a goal strongly shared by the White House and the intelligence community as a way to protect the nation against terrorism and other foreign threats.
Renewal of the FISA Amendments Act, enacted in 2008 after heated debate, faces hurdles in the Senate, where more than a dozen lawmakers are concerned that the law does not adequately protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.
The House voted 300 to 118 to extend the law for five years. The Senate likely will not take up its version of the bill until after the Nov. 6 election.
The Obama administration is pressing the case that renewal is crucial to preserving the government’s capabilities to collect intelligence on adversaries overseas. At the same time it is seeking to refute assertions made by civil libertarians and some lawmakers — most notably Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — that the law enables the intelligence community to spy on Americans without probable cause.