Trump Considers Veto of FISA Reauthorization

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Posted: Mar 12, 2020 2:15 PM
Trump Considers Veto of FISA Reauthorization

Source: (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Trump is considering a veto of a current FISA "reform" bill if it gets to his desk from the Senate. Authorization of the program expires on Sunday, March 15. 

The FISA reauthorization bill is supported by Attorney General Bill Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

"A wide bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives has passed important legislation to reauthorize critical national security tools under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We strongly support this legislation and urge all of our Senate colleagues to join us," McConnell and Republican Senators Richard Burr, Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn released in a statement this week. "Our nation’s national security professionals and intelligence community work every day to confront grave threats, protect American lives from foreign terrorism, and counter espionage by hostile powers such as China and Russia. They are not complacent, and Congress must not be either. The safety and security which these regularly-used authorities have helped preserve should not be misunderstood as evidence they are no longer needed. To the contrary, it is evidence of their necessity."

"This legislation balances the need to reauthorize these critical authorities with the need for tailored reforms to increase accountability. The 2016 election made it abundantly clear that the FISA process is not perfect. We commend House Republicans for working closely with Attorney General Barr to craft a bill that contains concrete changes to address the abuses of 2016 without jeopardizing the resources that keep Americans safe," the statement continues. 

The bill is opposed by members of the House Freedom Caucus and a number of Republican senators who say it isn't properly reformed after the Department of Justice Inspector General found nearly two dozen serious abuses of the program by the FBI in 2016 and well into President Trump's tenure. 

"Recent revelations that FISA was severely and repeatedly used to spy on a presidential campaign are beyond the pale—if the government can misuse this system to spy on a presidential campaign, they can surely do it to any other American citizen," members of the Freedom Caucus said in a statement. "As Congress considers reauthorizing FISA, anything short of significant and substantive reforms would betray the trust of the American people. The House Freedom Caucus will oppose any bill that does not meet a Constitutional standard for the protections of American citizens’ rights. We will also oppose any ‘clean’, short-term reauthorization of the current, harmful version of FISA."

On Capitol Hill, it looks like the legislation has hit a snare.