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House preps for big surveillance vote

A grayscale photo of the headquarters of the National Security Agency
The headquarters of the National Security Agency. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

The House of Representatives is pushing forward with a plan re-authorize a major surveillance law on Thursday as its expiration date approaches.

Why it matters: The Section 702 surveillance law is used to justify the digital surveillance of foreign nationals located abroad, but privacy advocates say it also picks up communications produced by American citizens without a warrant. And they say the House bill may result in the expansion of surveillance programs.

The details:

  • House members are scheduled to take a preliminary vote on whether to consider the proposals late Wednesday afternoon.
  • If it passes, the House will move forward with an expected Thursday vote on a bill that would re-up the law for six years — but also make changes that activists say open the door to re-starting searches based solely on the mention of a target in a collected communication. Lawmakers are planning to vote on an amendment that would institute major reforms to the program but isn't expected to pass.

What's next: Lawmakers in the House and Senate are working quickly ahead of the law's expiration date next Friday. The administration says the president would sign the main bill that the House plans to vote on.