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Senate Passes Massive $886 Billion National Defense Authorization Act

Above photo: Demonstrators hold a banner at a protest in Manhattan on April 15, 2021. Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images.

The NDAA includes an extension of Section 702 of FISA, which allows warrantless surveillance of foreigners and Americans.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the mammoth $886 billion 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds the Pentagon and military spending in other government agencies.

The bill passed in a vote of 87-13, with six Democrats, six Republicans, and one Independent voting against it. This NDAA now heads to the House, where it’s expected to pass in a vote on Thursday as the bill is the version that the two chambers negotiated.

The NDAA includes an amendment to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which gives the FBI the power to conduct warrantless spying of foreign targets and Americans they interact with. Section 702 has enabled mass surveillance of Americans and is set to expire at the end of the year, but the extension pushes it back to April 19.

A bipartisan group of senators tried to strip the Section 702 extension from the NDAA, but their efforts failed. For procedural reasons, only 41 senators were needed to remove the provision, but only 35 supported it.

“The Senate just voted to waive the point of order against the NDAA. 35 of us opposed the motion to waive,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote on X. “We needed only 41 to prevent this outcome, and to remove FISA 702 from the NDAA. This is not good. The House should #StopTheNDAA.”

The passage of the NDAA comes as the Biden administration is struggling to get Republicans to support a massive $111 billion supplemental spending package that includes military aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. But Republicans are holding out until Democrats agree to significant changes in US border policies, and the bill might not be passed until 2024.

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