House passes FISA reauthorization bill after previous GOP setback


The House on Friday voted to reauthorize a key U.S. spy program considered crucial to national security.

In a 273 to 147 vote, lawmakers renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire on April 19, through 2026. It now heads to the Senate.

Section 702 allows the U.S. government to collect electronic communications of non-Americans located outside the country without a warrant. It came under scrutiny among some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and civil liberties groups because it sometimes results in the collection of data on Americans who are in contact with those surveilled individuals.

An amendment was offered to add a warrant requirement to see data from Americans, but it narrowly failed in a 212 to 212 vote.

The measure was supported by far-right Republicans and progressive Democrats, who argued it was necessary to protect Americans’ privacy. The White House and intelligence officials, however, warned such a requirement would cripple the program and leave the U.S. “blind” to intelligence used to identify terrorist threats and other risks to national security.

MORE: What is FISA? Surveillance law in spotlight as lawmakers debate key spy program

While the FISA reauthorization passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, its path was uncertain earlier this week after hard-line Republicans revolted and tanked a routine procedural vote on the matter.

Wednesday’s failed vote, in which 19 Republican hard-liners voted against party leadership, came after former President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue at the last-minute. In a message posted to his social media platform, Trump wrote: “KILL FISA.”

House Republicans huddled Wednesday evening and Thursday to regroup, and the House Rules Committee on Thursday night voted 8-4 to advance the FISA bill after the setback.

Changes to the bill that appeared to appease conservative hard-liners were reauthorizing the FISA program for two years instead of five years.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson in the chamber of the US House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC,  April 11, 2024.  (Shawn Thew/EPA/Shutterstock)

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson in the chamber of the US House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 11, 2024. (Shawn Thew/EPA/Shutterstock)

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., signaled that adjustment was a win for Trump if he is elected in November.

“I am really grateful at the receptiveness to some of our requests,” Gaetz said on Thursday.

“We just bought President Trump an at-bat. The previous version of this bill would’ve kicked reauthorization beyond the Trump presidency. Now, President Trump gets an at-bat to fix the system that victimized him more than any other America,” he added.

Virginia Rep. Bob Good also said “going from five years to two years is a good thing.”

MORE: FISA program that helped take down Zawahiri is expiring. Officials are sounding the alarm.

The shorter timeframe allows the next Congress to reevaluate to make sure the legislation is “actually working,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.

Gaetz also said he was given “absolute assurance” from Johnson that next week the House will vote on a privacy bill from Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, ahead of the vote, predicted its passage and said it would be a win for Johnson, who has repeatedly struggled in his six months in leadership with the party’s right flank. Johnson continues to face a looming threat to his speakership from Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene.

“We are going to keep moving forward and the Senate is going to have to do their job,” Scalise said of FISA.

ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.

House passes FISA reauthorization bill after previous GOP setback originally appeared on abcnews.go.com



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