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Congress approves President Bush's spy bill

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  • Secret court ruling prompted push for updating the program
  • President Bush had urged the House to pass the bill without delay
  • Measure expands government's power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Democratic-led Congress yielded to President Bush on Saturday and approved legislation to temporarily expand government's power to conduct electronic surveillance without a court order in tracking foreign suspects.

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President Bush demanded Congress expand his surveillance authority before leaving for vacation.

Civil liberties groups charged the measure would create a broad net that would sweep up law-abiding U.S. citizens.

But the House of Representatives gave its concurrence to the bill, 227-183, a day after it won Senate approval, 60-28.

The action came amid warnings of possible attacks on the United States.

"After months of prodding by House Republicans, Congress has finally closed the terrorist loophole in our surveillance law -- and America will be the safer for it," declared House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

"We think it is not the bill that ought to pass," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. But he conceded he and fellow Democrats were unable to stop the measure in this national security showdown with the White House.

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"Protecting America is our most solemn obligation," Bush said earlier in the day in urging Congress to send him the bill so he could sign it into law. Video Watch Kelli Arena's report on what some call an intelligence gap »

The measure would authorize the National Security Agency to intercept without a court order communications between people in the United States and foreign targets overseas. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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