House passes FISA renewal capping months of GOP infighting

The House voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Friday, a win for national security hawks that brings an end to months of standstills and infighting in the GOP over how to reform the key surveillance tool.

Lawmakers passed the newest version of the legislation, 273 to 147, that includes a two-year sunset on FISA, with the promise of a stand-alone vote on Rep. Warren Davidson’s (R-OH) bill, the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act, sometime next week. Though the sunset change and stand-alone vote are wins for House Judiciary Committee members, several lawmakers were displeased that the legislation did not include warrant requirements for federal agencies to search U.S. citizens’ data — an outcome favored by House Intelligence Committee members and their national security allies.

The legislation, however, remains stuck in the House. Right after the bill passed, members went back and forth as to how to proceed. Rep. Laurel Lee (R-FL) called for a motion to reconsider the vote on the FISA bill, pushing House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) to call for a motion to table Lee’s motion. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) demanded a recorded vote on the motion to table, which will take place as early as Monday — keeping the bill from reaching the Senate until that time.

“So everybody’s gotta go home and tell constituents over the next 72 hours about why they are siding with the intelligence agencies in the deep state and the swamp over the rights and liberties of the American people,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who voted against the FISA bill, said following the vote.

GOP leaders faced several failed attempts to advance FISA this week, with 19 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting down a procedural rule vote on Wednesday, effectively putting the House at a standstill until a new version of the text was negotiated. 

The two-year sunset and a vote on Davidson’s bill were among the critical changes that lawmakers made to appease holdouts, but some members entered Friday with lingering disappointments over the lack of warrant requirements in the legislation. 

Members tied on voting for Rep. Andy Biggs’s (R-AZ) amendment, 212 to 212, which would have required warrants for any searches of U.S. citizens, with exceptions for “threats to life or bodily harm, consent searches, or known cybersecurity threat signatures,” causing it to fail on the House floor. Over 120 Democrats joined 86 Republicans in sinking the controversial provision.

The White House had come out against the Biggs amendment, telling members ahead of the vote that it is “narrow and unworkable” in whip calls to members, according to talking points provided to the Washington Examiner by a source familiar.

The bill passed despite interference from former President Donald Trump, who came out in opposition to the FISA proposal earlier Wednesday. His comments made things more complicated for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and prompted some of his closest allies in Congress to reconsider their positions on reauthorization.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The passage of the legislation brings an end to months of infighting among national security advocates and privacy hawks over reforms to the FBI’s use of the surveillance program. A faction of hard-line Republicans revolted several times, delaying the process and causing Johnson to withdraw the bill from the floor two times.

The bill now heads to the Senate for votes next week, which are expected as early as Monday. If the legislation passes the upper chamber, it will then head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles