House Republicans Kill FISA Bill

by State Brief

House Republicans have stopped the latest renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), holding out for additional protections guaranteeing that U.S. citizens aren’t swept up in warrantless spying.

Section 702 of FISA authorizes U.S. intelligence agencies to collect communications records of foreigners based overseas.

Supporters argue that FISA authorization keeps America safe by allowing federal authorities the ability to respond more quickly to threats by not having to obtain a court order on each target to conduct surveillance. Opponents say the current system is rife with abuse and can be used to illegally surveil Americans.

In 2016, a report from the National Security Agency’s Inspector General found misuse of internal databases, with intelligence professionals performing queries that do not comply with restrictions on surveilling U.S. citizens, a potential violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has warned that Section 702 of FISA “permits the U.S. government to engage in mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international communications, including phone calls, texts, emails, social media messages, and web browsing.”

Section 702 was extended through April 19 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Today’s final vote was 193-228, with 19 House Republicans voting against the bill, demanding stronger protections be put in place, ideally requiring the government to obtain a warrant before conducting any surveillance activities on U.S. citizens.

“3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans’ private communications. 278,000 improper searches on American citizens. 19,000 improper searches of donors to a congressional candidate. There is no shortage of spying authority abuses by the weaponized FBI. Get a warrant,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), one of the 19 members demanding reform, wrote in a post on social media platform X.

Prior to the vote, former President Donald Trump posted on social media urging lawmakers to “KILL FISA,” which was used to illegally spy on his campaign in 2016. The phrase became a rallying cry for congressional supporters who agreed to halt the legislation.

“I’m with President Trump. FISA has been significantly abused to illegally spy and trample on the privacy rights of millions of Americans. Time to kill it and get back to the way our Constitution intended things to be! Get a warrant,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) wrote on X.

“Republicans do not believe in warrantless spying on Americans,” wrote Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). “Speaker Mike Johnson is urging members to reauthorize FISA after President Trump said: KILL FISA. It’s like asking the Deep State to hold itself accountable after it has abused the American people’s trust.”

“19 Republicans stood strong and defeated the FISA bill today, instead insisting on real reform to FISA (no secret courts should be allowed to spy on Americans),” wrote Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

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