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House Hands FISA to the Senate

The House overwhelmingly adopted a sweeping update of the laws governing electronic spying on Friday, the product of a deal reached this week between the White House and leaders of both parties in both chambers.

Lawmakers voted 293-129 to approve the bill rewriting the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The measure appears certain to quash about 40 lawsuits filed against telecommunications companies for their cooperation with the covert spying program after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — a prime sticking point for liberal Democrats and civil liberties groups who oppose it.

It also forces the program under the law, a response to earlier White House arguments that it fell within the president’s war-making powers.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate next week. The deal is the second major deal this week to have been negotiated between Congressional Democrats, their GOP counterparts and the White House, breaking longtime legislative logjams.

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