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Why are the billionaires laughing?

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) arrive for a Senate Finance Committee hearing concerning fiscal year 2018 budget proposals for the Department of Treasury and tax reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) arrive for a Senate Finance Committee hearing concerning fiscal year 2018 budget proposals for the Department of Treasury and tax reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

These 18 Senate Democrats Just Voted to Hand Trump Mass Spying Powers

"Members of both parties who voted in favor of this legislation should be sharply rebuked for supporting a bill that is in flagrant violation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution."

Jake Johnson

Senate Democrats had an opportunity Tuesday night to block legislation that places expanded warrantless spying powers into the hands of President Donald Trump—who they have frequently criticized as a deranged authoritarian—but 18 Democrats opted instead to do the opposite, providing the decisive votes in favor of a cloture motion that essentially ensures the bill's passage this week.

While many viewed the Senate's approval of cloture as a sure thing, a bit of drama ensued Tuesday night as the motion was two votes shy of the necessary 60 with two senators—John Kennedy (R-La.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)—left to vote. 

But after Kennedy opted to vote in favor of the motion, McCaskill quickly followed with a yes vote of her own—giving the Republican majority enough votes to kill debate on the the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S.139), block any possible privacy amendments, and clear its path to the Senate floor.

In total, 18 Democratic senators—as well as Angus King (I-Maine)—voted with Republicans to move the widely denounced bill forward.

The 18 Democrats were: Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Warner (Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).

Civil liberties groups were quick to condemn every senator who cast a vote in favor of legislation that, if passed, will renew Section 702 of FISA, which allows the government to spy on the electronic communications of Americans and foreigners without a warrant.

"Members of both parties who voted in favor of this legislation should be sharply rebuked for supporting a bill that is in flagrant violation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution," ACLU declared on Twitter following Tuesday's vote. "Instead of instituting much needed reforms and safeguards, Senators supported legislation that would give spying powers to an administration that has time and time again demonstrated its disregard for civil rights and civil liberties."

The Senate's vote on Tuesday came just a week after 65 House Democrats momentarily dropped their skepticism of Trump's mental capacity and voted to gift him and Attorney General Jeff Sessions the ability to conduct mass surveillance of Americans with little oversight.

What follows is a full list of the senators who voted in favor of the cloture motion Tuesday night. (Ten of the Democrats on the list are up for reelection in November.)


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Israel Condemned for Designating Palestinian Human Rights Groups 'Terrorist Organizations'

"Labeling effective NGOs 'terrorists' is a textbook way to evade accountability for human rights violations—and an affront to everyone who cares about peace," said Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Kenny Stancil ·


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"Your inaction," Rep. Cori Bush warned the president, "is undermining our efforts to deliver good jobs, environmental justice, and a renewable energy future."

Jessica Corbett ·


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"So much for Trump's claim that Twitter has an anti-conservative bias."

Brett Wilkins ·


'And Maybe More': Biden Says He's Open to Reforming Filibuster to Win Voting Rights

"It's a simple choice between a free America or one chained by the past," said one advocate. "Our democracy hangs in the balance."

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"The best way to prevent the heating of our planet," says Friends of the Earth, "is to end the use of fossil fuels for good."

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