'No American should have their right to privacy taken away,' Republican Senator Rand Paul says as bill heads to Senate.
The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to reauthorize controversial foreign spying authorities just hours after President Donald Trump sent a pair of confusing tweets on the program.
The 256-164 House vote now sends the legislation to the Senate that will have to decide whether it will give the final legislative go-ahead for the six-year renewal of powers to intelligence agencies that ostensibly allows them to collect intelligence on foreign targets.
But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's authorities also sweep up the communications of Americans, prompting concerns from privacy advocates ahead of the act's looming Jan. 19 expiration.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian focused on privacy protections, threatened to oppose the "flawed" bill he said continues "the warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans.
"No American should have their right to privacy taken away. I will keep doing everything in my power, including filibuster, to oppose this legislation," Paul said.
The comments came after Trump sent out an early morning tweet in which he appeared to slam the program before offering his support in a follow-on post.
"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 claimed.
Shortly after, Trump said the bill "is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!"
The apparently contradictory messages caused confusion in Washington ahead of the vote and reportedly prompted a telephone call from House Speaker Paul Ryan to urge Trump to maintain his previously stated support for the bill after he sent his first tweet.
Rights advocates, however, have taken aim at what they say are unconstitutional measures within the legislation, namely section 702, that allows intelligence agencies to sweep up Americans' communications.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and officials have insisted 702 does not run afoul of it, despite skepticism from rights advocates.
"The government will use this bill to continue warrantless intrusions into Americans’ private emails, text messages, and other communications," Neema Singh Guliani, policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
“No president should have this power," she said. "The Senate should reject this bill and rein in government surveillance powers to bring Section 702 in line with the Constitution.”