House Passes 2-Year Surveillance Law Extension Without Warrant Requirement

In a major turnaround, the House on Friday passed a two-year reauthorization of an expiring warrantless surveillance law that had stalled this week amid G.O.P. resistance stoked by former President Donald J. Trump.

The bill would extend a provision known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that is set to lapse next Friday. It was a remarkable resuscitation of the measure from a collapse just days ago on the House floor after Mr. Trump had urged lawmakers to “kill” FISA.

But House passage came after lawmakers only narrowly defeated a bipartisan effort to restrict searches of Americans’ messages swept up by the program — a major change that national security officials had warned would gut the law. The vote reflected widespread skepticism of the program.

Grasping to salvage the measure before the law expires, Speaker Mike Johnson put forward a shorter extension than its originally envisioned five years, persuading hard-right Republicans who had blocked the bill to allow it to move forward. The final vote was 273 to 147, with both parties split. One hundred and twenty-six Republicans joined 147 Democrats in favor, while 88 Republicans and 59 Democrats were opposed.

The legislation still must be cleared by the Senate and signed by President Biden. But the main obstacle has been in the House, where Republicans are deeply divided and Mr. Johnson had tried and failed three times to push it through.

Until nearly the last minute on Friday, it was unclear what shape the final bill would take as the House considered a series of proposed changes whose fate various members had said would determine their positions. Most prominently, in a nail-biter of a vote, lawmakers just barely rejected a proposal to ban F.B.I. agents and intelligence analysts from using Americans’ identifiers — like email addresses — to query the repository of messages swept up by the program unless those officials first get warrants.

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