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The House may vote on it today, after a Democratic proposal fails.
Published Aug. 5, 2007

The Senate voted late Friday to temporarily give President Bush expanded authority to eavesdrop on foreign terrorists without court warrants.

Earlier, the House rejected a Democratic version of the bill. But House leaders were working on a plan to bring up the Senate-passed bill and vote on it today in response to Bush's demand that Congress give him the expanded surveillance authority before leaving for vacation this weekend.

The White House applauded the Senate vote and urged the House to quickly follow suit.

The bill "will give our intelligence professionals the essential tools they need to protect our nation," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. "It is urgent that this legislation become law as quickly as possible."

Senate Democrats reluctantly voted for a plan largely crafted by the White House after Bush promised to veto a Democratic alternative that would have required a court review within 10 days.

The Senate bill gives Bush the expanded eavesdropping authority for only six months. The Senate vote was 60-28. Both parties had agreed to require 60 votes for passage.

Senate Republicans, aided by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, said the update to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, would at least temporarily close gaps in the nation's security system.

It would be in effect only for six months, giving Congress time to hammer out a more comprehensive plan instead of rushing approval for a permanent bill in the waning hours before lawmakers begin their monthlong break.

In the House, Democrats lost an effort to push a proposal that called for stricter court oversight of the way the government would ensure its spying would not target Americans. The 218-207 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage under rules limiting debate.