Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Passes New Spying Legislation

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives handed President George W. Bush a victory, voting to expand the government's abilities to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States.

The 227-183 vote Saturday, which followed the Senate's approval Friday, sends the bill to Bush for his signature.

Late Saturday, Bush said, "The director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, has assured me that this bill gives him what he needs to continue to protect the country."

The administration said the measure was needed to speed the National Security Agency's ability to intercept telephone calls, e-mails and other communications involving foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the United States." Civil liberties groups and many Democrats said it went too far, possibly enabling the government to wiretap U.S. residents communicating with overseas parties without adequate oversight from courts or Congress.

Congressional Democrats won a few concessions in negotiations earlier in the week. New wiretaps must be approved by the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, not just the attorney general. Congress has battled with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on several issues, and some Democrats have accused him of perjury.

The new law will expire in six months unless Congress renews it. Bush wanted the changes to be permanent.