Fri. May 24th, 2024

House votes to renew FISA spying tool after earlier Republican revolt

By 37ci3 Apr12,2024

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted Friday to renew a powerful surveillance program, two days after 19 conservative privacy hawks. rebelled They defied the Republican leadership and blocked the legislation on the floor because their demands were not met.

The vote was 273-147 and overwhelmingly bipartisan, with both Republicans and Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. 126 of those who support the legislation are Republicans, 147 are Democrats. It followed a dramatic vote to narrowly reject an amendment that would have required warrants for surveillance in more cases.

Conservative rebels ended the blockade early Friday, and Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. and after agreeing with his team, they allowed the bill to move forward. Under the agreement, the reauthorization of spy powers, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would be shortened by two years from the initial five years proposed.

Republicans said it would give former President Donald Trump, who said this week he wanted to “kill” FISA, a chance to make his mark on the law if he wins back the White House.

“We just applauded President Trump,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a top Trump ally and one of the 19 rebels. “An earlier version of this bill would have triggered reauthorization outside of Trump’s presidency. Now President Trump is getting a shot at fixing a system that has victimized him more than other Americans.”

Before the vote, Johnson set up a secure room just off the floor where lawmakers could review classified documents.

Conservatives also secured a vote on the bipartisan amendment, one of 19 led by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona. This amendment would require law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to search the communications of US citizens and permanent residents collected while tracking aliens. external. And Johnson agreed to hold a vote next week on a bill by Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio that would require the government to obtain a warrant to obtain the personal information of U.S. citizens from brokers.

“I’m disappointed with where we are today, but it could have been worse,” Davidson said in an interview after Friday’s procedural rule vote, which helped tank two days ago. “We don’t work in a think tank, we work in the legislature, so make progress where you can.”

The bill is expected to go to the Senate next week before an April 19 deadline to renew or repeal Section 702 of FISA. Some Republicans used a procedural move to force another vote on the entire bill, blocking passage in the Senate.

The successful House vote comes just hours ago Johnson is preparing to meet with Trump for an “election integrity” event at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida; GOP lawmakers said they expect FISA to be among the other issues they will discuss.

Strange bedfellows for privacy rights

Before taking up the bill, the House voted 212-212 against a bipartisan amendment proposed by a rare left-right coalition designed to curb the government’s use of warrantless surveillance of US individuals. A tie vote meant the amendment failed. Along with Biggs, he was defended by Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Rep. Jerry Nadler, DN.Y.; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and Davidson.

The White House fought to kill the amendment, with Attorney General Merrick Garland and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan calling lawmakers Friday morning to urge them to vote against it, two sources familiar with the calls said.

In the end, 128 Republicans and 84 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment. Johnson voted against it.

According to a source told NBC News, officials told lawmakers that the government would bar “access to lawfully collected information it already has to identify and disrupt critical threats to the American people.” “less safe.”

Nadler, in a rare clash with the Biden White House, called the FISA bill “grossly inadequate” and said it “does not represent real reform” without the warrant requirement. After he spoke, Progressive Caucus Chairman Jayapal took the floor Friday, disputing the intelligence community’s arguments about the need for the existing law, calling the changes a necessary balance between protecting security and civil liberties. He said Congress should end the “backdoor search loophole” that impedes Americans’ privacy.

In a moment of camaraderie with their common foes, Jordan said he wanted to “thank the Democrats” on his committee for “working together to defend a fundamental principle.”

But Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, sided with the White House, saying passage of the amendment would mean “the full recruitment of the Communist Party of China, Hezbollah and Hamas in the United States.” it would require a warrant for the government to access their communications.

“We would be blindsided,” Turner said. “Our nation would be safe.”

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By 37ci3

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