Disagreements Over FISA Extension Cause Delay
The House of Representatives had planned to hold votes on two competing proposals for renewing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this week. However, disagreements over the scope of the renewal caused a delay in the decision-making process.
Two Committees, Two Different Approaches
The House Intelligence Committee proposed a renewal plan with minor changes to the existing legislation, while the House Judiciary Committee put forward a vastly more restrictive proposal. The original plan was to send the more supported proposal to the Senate, using a strategy known as “queen of the hill.”
Opposing Views on FISA Extension
Conservatives and progressives within the House expressed opposing views on including the FISA extension in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This led to the collapse of the “queen of the hill” plan after a closed-door House GOP conference meeting.
Debate Over Committee Jurisdiction
Rep. Darrell Issa argued that the House should prioritize the Judiciary Committee’s bill due to its jurisdiction over the Patriot Act, which created Section 702 of FISA. He believed that presenting two significantly different bills after months of committee collaboration would not be productive.
Concerns About Program Restrictions
Rep. Mike Garcia, a member of the Intelligence Committee, expressed concerns that the Judiciary Committee’s bill would severely restrict the FISA program, potentially leaving the U.S. more vulnerable. He emphasized the need for both reforms and accountability, especially regarding the FBI’s actions.
Strategy Change and Delays
A plan to advance the two bills through the “queen of the hill” strategy was seemingly abandoned, with Speaker Mike Johnson denying any change in strategy. The Speaker emphasized the importance of taking the time to address key provisions and ensuring the safety of Americans.
Opposing Stances on Clean Extension
Rep. Eric Burlison, a conservative supporter of the Judiciary Committee’s bill, opposed a clean extension of FISA and urged the House to resolve the issue before the new year. Conversely, Rep. Don Bacon, a moderate Republican, saw both pros and cons in delaying the decision until next year, expressing concerns about the Judiciary Committee’s bill going too far.
Overall, the House chose to delay the votes on the FISA renewal proposals, citing the need for thorough consideration and the importance of finding a balanced solution that protects citizens while maintaining effective intelligence capabilities.