Defense Bill Delay Due To Deep State Reauthorization
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) made a crucial decision on Tuesday to table a move that would have slipped a controversial deep-state reauthorization into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This move, which has been met with strong backlash, was a proposed temporary reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The proposed extension of Section 702, a government surveillance law, was met with bipartisan opposition from 54 House lawmakers and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH). Even Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) had expressed his opposition to including this reauthorization in the NDAA.
This is a major development for those who have been advocating for reforms to the surveillance laws, such as Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) who has consistently called for an end to warrantless government surveillance. He praised Johnson’s decision and said, “Keeping FISA out of the NDAA is a victory for the American people who demand the end of warrantless government surveillance.”
Earlier, Johnson’s office had refused to confirm Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) claim that there would be no reauthorization of Section 702, temporary or otherwise, in the NDAA. However, Johnson assured that the various fixes to Section 702 would be considered on the House floor.
According to sources, during a closed-door conference meeting on Tuesday, Johnson said that he could bring Jordan’s and Turner’s two competing bills up for a vote in a procedural gambit known as “King of the Hill” if there isn’t a consensus on the section. This would allow competing proposals to be brought to the floor as amendments, and whichever one gets a majority vote will be adopted.
This move by Johnson to exclude the Section 702 extension from the NDAA debate now leaves the Judiciary Committee to consider the merits of their proposed legislation, the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act (PLEWSA). This bill, sponsored by Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), and Russell Fry (R-SC), aims to bring significant reforms to FISA.
The PLEWSA would require a warrant for the government to access any Americans’ information under Section 702, a practice that is currently allowed without a warrant. It would also prohibit law enforcement and intelligence agencies from purchasing Americans’ private data through data brokers, a practice known as the “data broker loophole.”
Additionally, the legislation would limit the number of FBI agents allowed to search the Section 702 database and set up penalties for violations under FISA. This move has received support from privacy-oriented groups such as Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and Demand Progress.
Rep. Biggs, the lead sponsor of the bill, said, “America’s intelligence community continues to conduct warrantless, mass surveillance on innocent citizens,” and called for the House to pass the legislation into law.
Rep. Jordan also addressed the issue, saying, “Substantial reforms to FISA are long overdue, and we commend Chairman Biggs for his steadfast commitment to reining in unchecked surveillance of Americans.”
With this development, the House has a unique opportunity to bring sweeping reforms to FISA and protect citizens’ right to privacy. It is now up to the Judiciary Committee to consider and pass the PLEWSA, a crucial step toward restoring privacy rights in the United States.