Here's Where We Are on the FISA Reauthorization Bill

Posted: May 28, 2020 4:45 PM
Here's Where We Are on the FISA Reauthorization Bill

The reauthorization of the FISA program is in limbo as the White House, House Republicans, Democrats and the Department of Justice continue to have major legislative disagreements with the secret program. The domestic spying authorization technically expired in March, but the Senate passed a 77-day emergency bill to fill the gap. 

Here's where things stand weeks later -- 

House Democrats

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who did not indicate when the bill might come up again, said that it had been pulled at the request of Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Republicans who previously supported reauthorizing the program "have indicated they are going to vote against it now" at the behest of Trump.

President Trump:

House Freedom Caucus:

"The House Freedom Caucus supports pulling the FISA Reauthorization bill from consideration on the floor today. HFC will oppose any short-term reauthorization of expired FISA authorities."


“The Department worked closely with House leaders on both sides of the aisle to draft legislation to reauthorize three national security authorities in the U.S.A. Freedom Act while also imposing reforms to other aspects of FISA designed to address issues identified by the DOJ Inspector General. 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. We have proposed specific fixes to the most significant problems created by the changes the Senate made. Instead of addressing those issues, the House is now poised to further amend the legislation in a manner that will weaken national security tools while doing nothing to address the abuses identified by the DOJ Inspector General.

Accordingly, the Department opposes the Senate-passed bill in its current form and also opposes the Lofgren amendment in the House. Given the cumulative negative effect of these legislative changes on the Department’s ability to identify and track terrorists and spies, the Department must oppose the legislation now under consideration in the House. If passed, the Attorney General would recommend that the President veto the legislation.”

DOJ and House Republicans have urged President Trump to veto the legislation for different reasons. Republicans believe the legislation still gives the FISA court too much power to spy on Americans and DOJ officials believe it doesn't give them enough power to stop terrorists and other bad actors. 

As noted above, it remains unclear when the legislation will be brought back or rewritten for a vote.