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Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Burr, McCain raise concerns over Senate rejection of FBI surveillance amendment

The United States Senate voted 58-38 on Wednesday to reject an amendment that would enable the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to more quickly obtain the electronic transaction records of suspected terrorists.

The amendment was offered by U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and John McCain (R-AZ).

“We must equip our law enforcement with the tools to combat terrorism, and I am disappointed that the Senate is currently at a stalemate even though the majority clearly supports this important amendment,” Burr said. “The threat posed by the Islamic State and other terror groups continues to grow and we must do all we can to provide our law enforcement officers and analysts the tools they need. The Central Intelligence Agency director last week testified before my committee that the Islamic State has called for intensified attacks against the west. We cannot sit idly by while more Americans are endangered. I thank my cosponsors for their support and look forward to another opportunity for Congress to take action to enable law enforcement to protect Americans from the increasing terror threat.”

The amendment would have allowed the FBI to obtain electronic communication transactional records in the course of national security investigations. The FBI can obtain these non-content transactional telephone records and financial records, but not internet records due to conflicting legal interpretations.

The amendment would also have made permanent existing authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allow for the monitoring of non-U.S. citizen lone-wolf terrorists, including those who did not have direct contact with foreign terrorist groups.