Group of Conservative Republicans Join Democrats to Block FISA Renewal Bill

A group of conservative lawmakers in the House of Representatives joined Democrats Wednesday to tank a procedural vote to begin debate on a bill to reauthorize the FBI’s controversial spy tool, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The House passed a short-term extension of FISA 702 in December and it is set to expire on April 19.

According to a 2022  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court document, the FBI misused Section 702 more than 278,000 times, “including against crime victims, January 6 riot suspects, and people arrested at protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.” In one particularly egregious case, they reportedly relied on Section 702 to spy on 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate.

Nineteen Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), voted against a rule in the legislation to renew the Bureau’s warrantless surveillance powers without significant reforms, blocking the measure from advancing 193-228.

Section 702 is a provision of the FISA Amendments Act that permits the government to conduct targeted surveillance of foreign persons located outside the United States, including also their communications with American citizens here and abroad.

Earlier Wednesday, former President Trump urged Republicans to “KILL FISA” on his social media platform Truth Social. “It was illegally used against me, and many others,” Trump wrote. “They spied on my campaign.”

The major sticking point in the legislation is whether the FBI should be required to obtain a warrant before using the database search for information on US citizens.

The House Judiciary Committee released a video Wednesday calling for the warrant requirement.

The 19 Republicans were reportedly upset with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for backing the legislation without a warrant requirement. According to the Hill, House leadership planned to take up an amendment adding a warrant requirement to the bill.

“What we ended up with was a bill that didn’t have the warrant protections in the bill. It was going to be forced to be added as an amendment. And then the Speaker of the House put his finger on the scale against the amendment. And that pretty much is the story,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told reporters after the vote.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) took to X Wednesday to blow the whistle on a “carve out” included in the legislation requiring the FBI to notify and seek consent from Congress before violating the privacy of Congressmen.

“This will persuade many members of Congress to vote yes,” wrote Massie.

The Kentucky congressman questioned the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) about the notification requirement for members of Congress.

Johnson told reporters the House GOP conference would “regroup and reformulate another plan” to extend the FBI’s spying powers.

“We cannot allow section 702 of FISA to expire. It’s too important to national security. I think most of the members understand that,” he added.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who threatened yesterday to force a vote on ousting Johnson from power, blasted his handling of FISA reform.

“It’s shocking. You know, if he calls himself a conservative, I don’t know how he can be against stronger warrant mandates for the FISA reauthorization,” Greene told Fox News.

During a forum with other lawmakers Wednesday, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) compared the FISA legislation in its current form to taking a placebo.

“What you did is actually make your condition WORSE, because you didn’t even treat the underlying problem!” he said.


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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) walks past reporters as he leaves a House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S Capitol on April 10, 2024 in Washington, DC. The Republicans in the House of Representatives held a closed door meeting as they prepare to deliver the Articles of Impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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