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Senate Passes $886B Defense Bill Amidst Controversy: Warrantless Spying and GOP Dissent

While Republicans are still refusing to support a significant $111 billion supplemental spending package requested by Biden for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, the Senate successfully passed the substantial $886 billion 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

It passed on Wednesday, authorizing funding for the Department of Defense for this next year, in a vote of 87-13. Those voting against it included six Republicans, six Democrats, and an Independent. It now heads to the House where a vote is expected Thursday.

According to FOX, the individuals who voted against the bill were members of the GOP who have been critical of House Republicans. They were dissatisfied with the compromise reached with the Democrat-controlled Senate, as it eliminated several conservitive policy objectives related to transgender surgeries and abortion, among other issues.

Other controversial, arguably more pressing aspects which also attracted a minority of Democrat criticism includes an admendment to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

This controversially allows warrantless spying of foreign targets and Americans who have communications with those foreign subjects. The new extension in the NDAA authorizes it further until at least April 19.

Sen. Mike Lee raised the alarm on the FISA issue in particular, writing on X, "The Senate just voted to waive the point of order against the NDAA. 35 of us opposed the motion to waive. We needed only 41 to prevent this outcome, and to remove FISA 702 from the NDAA. This is not good. The House should #StopTheNDAA."

And here's what Sen. Lee is urging Americans to do:

It's a new day in America. The Fourth Amendment still prohibits warrantless searches of Americans. FBI disregards that under FISA 702. The NDAA would further enable FBI's lawless abuse of 702. One-third of the House can still stop the NDAA. Ask your representative to vote NO!!!

Rand Paul was another objector. House Rep from the same state of Kentucky Thomas Massie had this to say: "It was close in the Senate, but now it's up to the House tomorrow to stop the reauthorization of warrantless spying on Americans."

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden also urged Americans to voice their opposition to the NDAA ...

A renowned news organization, CNN, has brought to light the possibility that that Section 702 may be used by the government to justify the widespread surveillance of wireless communications, which would be a blatant breach of the Fourth Amendment's protections agains unreasonable searches and seizures.

"The searches are governed by a set of internal rules and procedures designed to protect Americans' privacy and civil liberties, but critics say that loopholes allow the FBI to search the data it collects for Americans' information-- as opposed to from foreign adversaries-- without proper justification," CNN writes.

Additionally, another noteworthy battle is brewing, revolving around the alleged misuse of authority by those in power, as reported by The Hill.

The rocky relationship between Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a rising conservative populist star, is in the spotlight after McConnell played a leading role in killing a Hawley-sponsored amendment to the annual defense bill.

Additionally, Hawley maintains that McConnell was determined to eliminate his proposal, whcih aimed to offer reparations to individuals living in the St. Louis area who were exposed to radiation from inadequately stored nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.

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