The House of Representatives canceled its plans on Wednesday to vote on the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after President Donald Trump threatened to veto the bill, and Republican leaders and top liberal Democrats said they would oppose it.
House Democratic leaders abruptly adjourned Wednesday evening, saying that a vote on the bill would not take place as expected, hours after saying there would be a vote. It is unclear whether or when a vote on the bill might be rescheduled, or if the House would skip a vote and try to negotiate with the Senate on a final compromise.
The House will be in session on Thursday and the legislation is listed for “possible consideration,” reported The Hill.
Trump threatened to veto the bill on early Wednesday, writing on Twitter, “If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it.”
“Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history,” he added. “The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!”
If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
Trump had also pushed back on the bill on Tuesday night, when in a Twitter post he urged Republican House lawmakers to vote against the FISA reform bill.
After Trumps latest tweet on Wednesday, no House Republicans backed a procedural measure related to the bill. Some of the 183 Republican “no” votes came from lawmakers who previously supported it. Fourteen Republicans did not vote on the procedural measure, and there were no “yes” votes from Republicans.
Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) also said they would oppose the Senates version of the legislation, saying it lacked reforms on online surveillance without warrants. The CPC has about 70 Democratic House members. The CPC had also previously opposed the FISA reauthorization bill that was considered by the House in March.
“We have grave concerns that this legislation does not protect people in the United States from warrantless surveillance, especially their online activity including web browsing and internet searches,” CPC Co-Chairs Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said in a statement. “Despite some positive reforms, the legislation is far too narrow in scope and would still leave the public vulnerable to invasive online spying and data collection.”
The Senate earlier this month fell short by one vote of adding a separate amendment to the legislation, sponsored by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), that would prevent federal law enforcement from obtaining internet browsing information or search history without seeking a warrant.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that Democrats had agreed on a similar, but tweaked, amendment that they would offer to the House bill. The amendment is supported by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio).
But that amendment faced opposition from the Justice Department and from Wyden. Wyden said in a statement on Tuesday that the House version would not “enact true protections for Americans rights against dragnet collection of online activity.” He continues to “urge the House to vote on the original Wyden-Daines amendment.”
Democrats later dropped the amendment, and said they instead would hold the vote on the Senate version with no amendments offered. That means the legislation would go straight to the presidents desk if passed by the House.
FISA Reauthorization Bill
The FISA reauthorization bill, known officially as “The USA Freedom Act of 2020,” first passed the House in March in a 278-136 vote. The Senate in early May then approved the bill in a bipartisan vote, with some amendments.
The Justice Department on Wednesday took a stance against the bill, which had since been amended by the Senate in May. A statement from the Justice Department by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd had recommended that Trump veto the bill. Boyd wrote that the department opposes the Senates version of the bill.
“Although that legislation was approved with a large, bipartisan House majority, the Senate thereafter made significant changes that the Department opposed because they would unacceptably impair our ability to pursue terrorists and spies,” Boyd wrote.
Soon after the Justice Departments opposition, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said it was time to take a “pause” on the legislation.
The Houses pulling of the vote on the bill raises the potential for three key surveillance provisions to remain expired indefinitely.
The three key surveillance provisions, or tools, expired in March after the House did not act on a Senate extension on the bill. The bill would reauthorize the three provisions until December 2023. The surveillance provisions, which need to be periodically renewed, are designed to help law enforcement officials track suspected terrorists and spies.
The three provisions include the “business records” provision, which allows the FBI to obtain a court order to secretly obtain business records of individuals inRead More From Source