Vice President Dick Cheney has defended the White House's authority over a secret domestic surveillance program, saying the action is legal and the American public backs the president's terror-fighting strategy.
Mr. Cheney said presidential powers have eroded in recent decades, but the current administration is acting aggressively to fight terrorism.
Mr. Cheney has cut short a trip abroad to return to Washington because he may have to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate on a defense spending bill and a renewal of the Patriot Act.
Some Republican and Democratic senators have opposed the Patriot Act, saying it gives the government too much access to citizens' private information.
The Senate failed to renew the Patriot Act Friday, the same day the New York Times disclosed President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to secretly monitor some telephone calls and e-mail between people in the United States and other countries.
Legal scholars and a number of lawmakers have questioned the program's legality, since most wiretapping in the United States requires a court order.
Some information for this story provided by AP.