The Senate extends Section 702 of the FISA law for two more years

The bill, which must now be signed by President Joe Biden, passed 60-34.

The Senate extended Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for two more years this Friday. The bill, which will now be sent to President Joe Biden's office, passed 60-34.

Many U.S. lawmakers believe the bill is essential to combating terrorism but a group of bipartisan senators claim it also gives the government overly broad espionage powers that put Americans' privacy at risk. NBC News reported that some senators are demanding protections that ensured "Americans' civil liberties and privacy."

The expansion was approved when there were only 40 minutes left until the regulations expired, despite the attempts of the Biden administration and pro-FISA legislators to ratify it as soon as possible since, they claimed, interrupting the court orders even for a short period of time could put the intelligence gathering process at risk. Approving the expansion prevents the bill from returning to the House of Representatives, which would have meant that the court orders would expire.

However, this was not the case. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) celebrated the news and stated on the Senate floor that "bipartisanship has prevailed here":

It wasn’t easy, people had many different views, but we all know one thing: letting FISA expire would have been dangerous. It’s an important part of our national security to stop acts of terror, drug trafficking, and violent extremism. Thank you to all my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their good work in getting this done.

Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney are in favor of extending Section 702 of the FISA law

In the end, there were more votes in favor than votes against. One of the people who voted to extend it for two years (not five) was the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He argued during the plenary session that it was necessary to expand the types of electronic communications covered by the law since the rule was drafted when "Internet was in the dark ages" and therefore required an update.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney was also in favor of the extension. He said in a statement posted on X that Section 702 was necessary to "keep the American people safe":

Mike Lee and Ron Wyden are against the bill

There were also many people against extending Section 702 of the FISA law. One of the people most critical was Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee. He claimed, in a several posts posted on X, that the bill "shows wanton disregard for the rights of Americans":

Democratic senator from Oregon and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee Ron Wyden was also against the bill. He said in statements collected by The Hill that he would “do everything in my power to stop it from passing the Senate":

Searches have gone after American protesters, political campaign donors, even people who simply reported crimes to the FBI. The abuses have been extensive and well documented.

The extension was finally approved. All that remains is for it to be signed into law by President Joe Biden. This could happen in a matter of days since both Biden and his administration have been in favor of this extension for quite some time.