House Overcomes Final Hurdle To Send FISA Reauthorization Bill To Senate

 The GOP-led House overcame one last remaining hurdle on Monday to approve a bill that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a spy tool that proponents say is critical to protecting national security, and send it to the Senate before the foreign data collection authorities sunset at the end of this week.

Lawmakers voted 259-128 to table a motion to reconsider the legislation that was introduced right after the chamber passed it on Friday. The last-ditch effort to stave off the bill was spearheaded by Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), who urged colleagues to join in her in demanding a warrant requirement to address concerns about FISA abuse and privacy.

Luna sent a letter to Republicans and Democrats, rallying support for her cause. She made a specific appeal to the 56 members who voted to pass the FISA bill after supporting the amendment from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) that would place limits on officials being able to do U.S. person searches in the information that gets swept up in foreign surveillance without a warrant.

The amendment proved to be a contentious proposition that spilled across party lines. It narrowly failed to pass in a 212-212 tie vote on Friday with support from hardline Republicans and leftist Democrats. Luna wanted it to get a second chance. Lawmakers “must fight to get the Biggs Amendment adopted in the final passage of this legislation,” Luna said in her letter.

House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH), who was the lawmaker who led the push to defeat Luna’s motion to reconsider the bill, has been a vocal advocate for reauthorizing Section 702 without the warrant requirement. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) told Fox News on Sunday that Section 702 “must continue” while insisting that American lives were at stake.

The House voted 273-147 on Friday, after the amendment failed, to extend authorities the U.S. government uses to gather electronic communications information on non-U.S. citizens abroad and deter threats to the homeland. The legislation, which got bipartisan support, would renew Section 702 for another two years and implement reforms to FISA.

Now, with the matter of Luna’s objection settled, the bill heads to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said lawmakers “must act quickly on a bipartisan basis to ensure these vital national security authorities do not lapse.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also pressed for FISA authorities to be maintained.

They have until April 19 to extend Section 702 before it expires. A couple members of the upper chamber, including Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY), spoke out in favor of passing the warrant amendment to protect the Fourth Amendment.

The White House supports reauthorization but rejected the warrant requirement, saying in a statement that the amendment from Biggs would “prohibit U.S. officials from reviewing critical information that the Intelligence Community has already lawfully collected, with exceptions that are exceedingly narrow and unworkable in practice.”

Initially, the FISA bill offered a five-year extension to Section 702, but it got whittled down to two years after it failed to advance earlier last week. The shortened window will allow President Joe Biden or whatever administration may succeed him next year the chance to seek a FISA shakeup.

Former President Donald Trump, who is running for another White House tern, had urged lawmakers to “KILL FISA” and said it was used to spy on his campaign. He was alluding to the FBI’s controversial efforts to get warrants to snoop on a 2016 campaign aide under a different part of FISA, Section 701, using an unverified dossier.

Johnson argued the FISA bill, called the Reforming Intelligence And Securing America Act, implements reforms that would “actually kill the abuses” directed at Trump’s 2016 campaign. The speaker met with Trump on Friday. During a joint press conference, Trump said he’s “not a big fan of FISA,” but added he told “everybody” to do what they want with it.

House Overcomes Final Hurdle To Send FISA Reauthorization Bill To Senate House Overcomes Final Hurdle To Send FISA Reauthorization Bill To Senate Reviewed by Your Destination on April 16, 2024 Rating: 5

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