I was reading this Washington Post article, and saw this line:

The Senate voted 69 to 26 Thursday afternoon to start debating the [FISA reauthorization] bill, which would extend for six years the government’s ability to collect from U.S. companies the emails and other communications of foreign targets located outside the United States.

I want to find out how my senators (Dianne Feinstein and Kamela Harris) voted. Searching for recent Senate roll calls, I found this one, which says it was associated with S. 139 and the count was 68-27 rather than 69-26. I couldn't find any other roll call votes with similar totals on January 11, so I assumed this was the right one despite the numerical discrepancy and the fact that the bill's description does not mention FISA.

However, when I clicked through to the Senate's webpage on S. 139, it claims that the bill not only passed the Senate in May 2017, but that it was by unanimous consent, which seems profoundly unlikely given that Ron Wyden recently said he would filibuster it. I also don't understand why the Senate would need to vote on a motion to proceed for a bill which already passed the chamber.

What is the actual status of the FISA bill in the Senate? Did the Washington Post misreport the vote, or am I looking at the wrong information? Or is the Senate's website incorrect?


1 Answer 1


In short, S.139 it passed a week later, with the short title of the Rapid DNA Act of 2017. To answer your specific question: Sen. Feinstein voted for passage, Sen. Harris voted against.

The short title S.139 doesn't seem suggest it was reauthorization of FISA, but simply amending it in some way related to DNA evidence. However, the final act, signed by the president, was the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017.

The Senate January 11th votes were procedural in nature. The actual Senate Vote on the bill was on January 18th, and it with 65 YEAs, 34 NEAs, the roll call results show what each senator did in the final vote.

Details, as I understand them:

According to the Congressional Record's Daily Summary for January 11, 2018, the 68 to 27 vote was not passing the bill, but a procedural vote to "proceed to consideration of the House message to accompany the bill." However it showed a supermajority margin in favor of moving forward, so that any filibuster was limited and could not block passage of the bill. The unanimous consent agreement seems to have simply been setting the date for the next step.

On January 16th, a cloture vote cut off debate, ending any filibuster, and the full senate passed the measure January 18th.


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