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Unless Congress and the White House Reach an Agreement, a Crucial U.S. Surveillance Tool Will Expire at the End of the Year

The Biden administration has just six weeks left to secure the reauthorization of a critical spy program, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire at the end of December if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement. The program is described as essential for preventing terrorism, catching spies, and disrupting cyberattacks. However, there is an ongoing debate about whether the law infringes on the privacy of ordinary Americans and whether changes are necessary before its reauthorization.

The Biden administration argues that the law has been crucial in thwarting attacks and contributing to successful operations. National security officials have emphasized the need to renew the law, especially amid elevated concerns about potential attacks inside the U.S. following Israel’s war with Hamas. However, the debate over the program’s reauthorization has led to a stalemate as both sides differ in key aspects of how it should be structured.

The administration faces challenges in navigating a coalition of lawmakers skeptical of government surveillance, which includes both privacy-minded liberal Democrats and Republicans supportive of former President Donald Trump. Despite the difficulties in reaching a compromise, the last-minute scramble between the White House and Congress has become expected each time the government’s surveillance powers are set to be renewed. The program was last renewed in January 2018 following a splintered vote in Congress, with former President Trump praising its value while also acknowledging the need to protect privacy.

With the year-end deadline approaching and a busy legislative agenda, including the possibility of a government shutdown, the reauthorization of the surveillance program remains a pressing issue that requires swift action from Congress and the White House.

• Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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