The Senate came one vote short Wednesday of approving a proposal to prevent federal law enforcement from obtaining internet browsing information or search history without seeking a warrant.
The bipartisan amendment won a solid majority of the Senate but just shy of the 60 votes needed for adoption. The 59-37 vote to allow such warrantless searches split both parties, with Republicans and Democrats voting for and against.
The amendment’s authors, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, have long opposed the expansion and renewal of surveillance laws. They say the laws can infringe on people’s rights.
We are talking about the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020 that would have required authorities to obtain a warrant before gaining access to American internet browsing and search history. AP reported
For those that are unaware, key parts of the Patriot Act – namely the mass surveillance section – is currently unauthorized and needs to be reauthorized by Congress to stay in effect. The current bill under consideration to do that is called the US FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has snuck in an amendment that would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to seize internet search and browsing history if they claim it is tied to an active investigation. To try and stop this, Senators Wyden and Daines introduced their own amendment that would stop the FBI from being able to get that information without a warrant – as makes sense. That amendment needed 60 votes to pass, and only received 59 Wednesday afternoon.
So here’s not about being Red or Blue it’s about our rights and constitution.
Twenty-seven Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against the amendment.
Under Section 215 of the Act, the government can compel phone companies and internet service providers to turn over such data, if it is deemed vaguely “relevant” to a terrorism or counterespionage case.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., encouraged senators to vote against Wyden and Daines’ amendment, saying the legislation was already a “delicate balance.” He warned changing it could mean the underlying provisions won’t be renewed.
In a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote, Sen. Wyden questioned whether law-abiding Americans should have to “worry about their government looking over their shoulders” at all times of the day.
“The typical American may think to themselves, I’ve got nothing to worry about. I’ve done nothing wrong. The government has no reason to suspect me of anything. Why should I worry?” Wyden said. “Unfortunately, the question is not whether you did anything wrong. The question is whether a government agent believes they have the right to look at your web searches.”
In a statement after the vote, Daines said he would continue pressing for reforms to FISA, saying it is “critical” to the privacy of all Americans.
The final vote on Wyden-Daines Amendment was 59-37. Sixty “ayes” were required for it to pass. Members had to be physically present to vote.
Below is a list of senators, by party, who voted against the reform (and those who didn’t vote at all):
Barrasso, John (R-WY)
Blackburn, Marsha (R-TN)
Blunt, Roy (R-MO)
Boozman, John (R-AR)
Burr, Richard (R-NC)
Capito, Shelley Moore (R-WV)
Collins, Susan M. (R-ME)
Cornyn, John (R-TX)
Cotton, Tom (R-AR)
Fischer, Deb (R-NE)
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)
Hyde-Smith, Cindy (R-MS)
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK)
Johnson, Ron (R-WI)
Lankford, James (R-OK)
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY)
Perdue, David (R-GA)
Portman, Rob (R-OH)
Roberts, Pat (R-KS)
Romney, Mitt (R-UT)
Rubio, Marco (R-FL)
Shelby, Richard C. (R-AL)
Thune, John (R-SD)
Tillis, Thom (R-NC)
Toomey, Patrick J. (R-PA)
Wicker, Roger F. (R-MS)
Young, Todd (R-IN)
Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE)
Casey, Robert P., Jr. (D-PA)
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA)
Hassan, Margaret Wood (D-NH)
Jones, Doug (D-AL)
Kaine, Tim (D-VA)
Manchin, Joe, III (D-WV)
Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)
Warner, Mark R. (D-VA)
Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI)
Four members did not cast votes: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
It’s unclear if McConnell will be able to get the votes for final passage on Thursday. The close outcome on the Wyden and Daines amendment indicates that a majority of the Senate would like to see the House legislation changed to better protect civil liberties.
An aide to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said after the vote that she would have supported the amendment if she had been present — meaning it would have passed. Murray was in her home state and will be present for Thursday’s vote, said the aide, who declined to be identified and was granted anonymity to share the senator’s thinking.
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Natalie Dagenhardt is an American conservative writer who writes for Right Journalism! Natalie has described herself as a polemicist who likes to “stir up the pot,” and does not “pretend to be impartial or balanced, as broadcasters do,” drawing criticism from the left, and sometimes from the right. As a passionate journalist, she works relentlessly to uncover the corruption happening in Washington. She is a “constitutional conservative”.