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House Passes Surveillance Bill Despite Confusing Trump Tweets

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With lawmakers shrugging off conflicting tweets from President Donald Trump, the House voted Thursday to extend a controversial surveillance program for six years.

The House voted 256 to 164 to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, with 191 Republicans and 65 Democrats voting in favor of the extension.

The Section 702 program gives intelligence agencies authority to monitor terrorist and foreign adversary communications, although libertarians and privacy advocates have expressed concerns about the incidental collection of data on Americans.

The vote to renew the program came after the House voted 233 to 183 against a bill from Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., that would have limited the government's ability to use communications involving American citizens.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, although libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul, R-Ken., and Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., have pledged to filibuster the legislation.

Ahead of the vote, Trump injected some uncertainty into the debate after a pair of conflicting tweets about the surveillance program.

Trump's initial tweet seemed to indicate opposition to the program, which he suggested was behind alleged surveillance of his presidential campaign.

"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.' This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" Trump tweeted.

However, a subsequent tweet from Trump expressed support for the program, with reports suggesting that Republican leaders asked the president to clarify his position.

Trump tweeted, "With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!"

The conflicting tweets from Trump came even though an earlier White House statement expressed strong opposition to the Amash-Lofgren bill.

A statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders claimed the Amash-Lofgren bill would "re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11."

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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