Congress Tucks FISA Renewal into Defense Bill Despite Concerns
In a rare show of unity, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a joint statement endorsing a five-month renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). However, House Speaker Mike Johnson faced backlash from conservatives for including the renewal in the defense bill. As the Senate considers the defense bill, concerns about FISA from arch conservatives may hinder its passage through the House Rules Committee. This could force the House to approve the defense bill as a “suspension,” requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. Consequently, FISA will remain in effect without the reforms conservatives demand.
House Rules Committee to Discuss Competing FISA Reform Proposals
The House Rules Committee is set to consider two competing proposals to reform FISA on Monday. One proposal is from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, while the other is from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan. The Jordan plan enjoys broad bipartisan support, while the intelligence community and the Senate prefer the Turner option. Both proposals will be put on the floor using a “king of the hill” system, where the bill with the most votes will be sent to the Senate. However, there is not enough time for the Senate to pass its own bill before the end of the year. Thus, the House and Senate will likely need to convene a conference committee to resolve differences between the proposals.
Conservatives Demand FISA Reforms, Time is Running Out
While there is time to address the issue before spring, conservatives continue to demand FISA reforms. However, the undercurrent suggests that achieving these reforms may prove challenging. In the meantime, the new Speaker of the House faces the brunt of conservatives’ frustrations.