The Senate on Thursday rejected a proposal that would have expanded the governments wiretapping powers. On a vote of 60-36, lawmakers instead sided with the White House in preferring a bill that would give retroactive immunity to telecom companies that let the government use their networks to eavesdrop on Americans.
There are nearly 40 civil suits pending that claim telecom carriers violated wiretapping and communications laws. The White House has fought the progression of the cases, saying they would reveal information that would threaten national security. Federal leaders also say the telecom carriers could be forced to file for bankruptcy if the lawsuits are successful.
Some key senators oppose immunity for telecom companies, including Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Chris Dodd, D-Conn. Dodd reportedly has threatened to filibuster any bill that would give immunity to telecom companies that broke wiretap laws.