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Congress pushes surveillance program changes into 2014; White House review could spur action

FILE - This June 6, 2013, file photo shows a sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. A White House review of U.S. surveillance programs has, for now, given Congress a bit of political cover for failing to enact reforms to spy systems this year and could break a legislative logjam after months of global outrage over privacy intrusions. Since last summer, a deeply divided Congress has tussled without resolution over competing plans to protect Americans’ privacy rights by limiting National Security Agency powers to track terrorists.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)The Associated Press

A White House review of U.S. surveillance programs has given Congress a bit of political cover after lawmakers failed to make changes this year to spy operations.

The review also could break a legislative logjam after months of outrage over privacy intrusions.

Since last summer, a deeply divided Congress has tussled over competing plans to protect Americans' privacy rights by limiting National Security Agency powers to track terrorists.

But the White House review has given Congress some guidance by offering tough recommendations for reform. The review was done by a presidential advisory panel and was released this past week.

Lawmakers who face the voters next fall can point to the recommendations to save face politically with security-minded constituents if surveillance is aggressively scaled back.