FISA bill in question after Trump speaks out.
The House was expected to reauthorize three expired surveillance tools this week but last-minute opposition is raising new doubts about whether the votes are there for the bill.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has asked Democratic leaders to hold off on putting the bill to a vote mainly due to last-minute push back from President Trump.
Wednesday afternoon Trump tweeted, “WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE OF AMERICANS IS WRONG!”
Trump has often vented about abuses of the FISA process by FBI officials during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump continues to claim that former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden were involved in an illegal effort to spy on his campaign.
McCarthy’s push to delay the bill came not long after Trump encouraged House Republicans to stop the legislation Tuesday night.
“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Trump tweeted.
House Democrats can’t get the bill through without some Republican support. The initial bill that passed the House in March received just 152 votes from Democrats. Progressives and libertarian-minded Republicans have warned that they do not believe the FISA court provides enough legal protections for those targeted for surveillance.
The Justice Department released a statement on Wednesday saying it opposes the House-proposed changes to surveillance reform legislation and will urge President Trump to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
“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,” a DOJ spokesman told reporters.
The DOJ said they had offered “specific fixes to the most significant problems” stemming from the changes made by the Senate but signaled that they had been completely ignored by House lawmakers.
McCarthy tweeted out Wednesday, “The FISA Court must be reformed so that Americans are protected from targeting. Let’s send the President something he can actually sign. If Democrats move forward with a vote on #FISA today, they’re just playing politics.”
Despite the pushback, Democratic leadership is signaling they will move forward, setting up a showdown on the House floor over the fate of the bill.
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