The GOP-led House renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the government to spy on foreigners overseas by a vote of 256 to 164.
The 256 to 164 vote to extend Section 702 allows the government to collect the emails and other communications of foreign targets located overseas from USA companies. As the law was originally written, the intelligence community can not use Section 702 to target Americans, who are protected by the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. "No president should have this power", American Civil Liberties Union policy counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement after the House's vote, calling on the Senate to "reject this bill".
The legislation, which passed 256-164 and split party lines, is the culmination of a years-long debate in Congress on the proper scope of US intelligence collection - one fueled by the 2013 disclosures of classified surveillance secrets by former contractor. The president, after issuing some confusing and contradictory tweets about the law, supports the House action, according to the White House. Senator Rand Paul promised he would filibuster the previous attempt to extend and expand NSA's surveillance powers, at the end of 2017.
The president's chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, scrambled to the Hill, while panicked aides alerted the president to the firestorm his tweets had caused.
Trump has said he'll sign the renewal, but his first tweets Thursday suggested he had suddenly turned against the program, alarming intelligence officials. The bill now heads to the Senate.
But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's authorities also sweep up the communications of Americans, prompting concerns from privacy advocates ahead of the act's looming January 19 expiration.
The FBI and intelligence agencies say being able to query the database is essential to keeping America safe.
The White House opposes a requirement that would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to get a warrant before even querying lawfully collected foreign intelligence for domestic cases, although not in emergencies or cases involving national security.
In 1978, the court that began giving out those permission slips was consolidated into a single, purpose-made entity: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
The US intelligence community considers the law its "key national security surveillance tool" and essential in the war on terrorism, Deutsche Welle reports, but opponents complain that it allows intelligence agencies to "scour massive amounts of data from US citizens". The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Ted Poe (R-Tex.).
"We need it! Get smart!" said the tweet, which was threaded to follow on from Trump's earlier message ― something the president hasn't shown a consistent ability to do.
"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today, '" Trump wrote headline.
As these communications are obtained without a warrant, this should be an obvious violation of the Fourth Amendment and our right as citizens to privacy.
Eventually, Trump called House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and they spoke for half an hour.