Even though much of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday focused on conversations involving the director of national intelligence, the director of the National Security Agency and President Donald Trump, for at least part of the hearing, questions centered around the issue at hand — continuing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.
The committee was specifically discussing section 702 of the act. It lets the National Security Agency collect intelligence and communications from non-U.S. citizens outside the country.
In 2012, Congress renewed the act through the end of 2017. But to keep using the program, lawmakers need to approve it again. And that's something the intelligence community really wants.
"If we were to lose the 702 authority, I would fully expect leaders from some of our closest allies would put out one loud scream," said Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency.
"They are deeply, deeply grateful to us for the information derived from 702 has saved, what they said, literally hundreds of lives," said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Sen. Tom Cotton introduced a bill to permanently approve FISA section 702.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastic would you be if this bill passed? You can go over 10 if you'd be excessively enthusiastic," Cotton asked the four witnesses.
"My level's about 100," Coats answered.
The bill is scheduled to head to the Senate Judiciary Committee first.