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Conservatives unhappy with Speaker Johnson over defense bill passage with FISA reauthorization

Two FISA reform bills were pulled from the House floor and the NDAA passed with a temporary FISA extension through April 19. GOP members are fine with pay raises for military service personnel, but upset about continuing warrantless searches of Americans' communications.

Published: December 15, 2023 11:00pm

House conservatives are unhappy with House Speaker Mike Johnson's handling of the defense bill passage, which included temporary Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization.

Republicans and some Democrats have been calling for changes to FISA's Section 702, which deals with federal surveillance of U.S. citizens abroad.

House GOP leaders pulled two FISA reform bills from the House floor and the National Defense Authorization Act passed with a temporary FISA extension through April 19. More House Democrats voted in favor of the NDAA than Republicans. The NDAA passed in the Democratic-led Senate 87-13.

"I love our military. That’s why I voted for the NDAA passed this summer under Speaker McCarthy that included a 30% pay raise for junior members of the military. But the NDAA negotiated by Speaker Johnson, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell and Hakeem Jeffries removed that pay raise," said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

"Not only that, it didn’t remove Ukraine funding and doubled it to $600 million, funded abortion vacations, and kept trans in our military. Worst of all, they shoved the FISA spy court into our defense bill. The NDAA should NEVER reauthorize the weaponization of our justice system that Joe Biden’s DOJ and the FBI are using to spy on American citizens," she added.

Other conservatives vented their frustrations with the NDAA process.

"More Dems just voted for the BAD NDAA deal than Republicans. I voted AGAINST it because the Senate stripped most of the things that made it a good bill in the summer, and they added the FISA extension without reforms," Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., the new chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, wrote on X.

Good also said in a statement that "unfortunately, the NDAA also promotes radical Green New Deal policies, implements anti-Second Amendment provisions which would increase the Federal government’s ability to track and control firearm ownership by servicemembers, and is a green light for the radical agenda of Secretary Austin and General Milley."

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., said the House Freedom Caucus met with Johnson about FISA and the NDAA and emphasized that Congress has the power of the purse and they should exercise it.

The congressman said he would have liked to see the House stay in session longer to hash out FISA reform and the NDAA rather than pass the NDAA with reauthorization of FISA included.

"Why are we at the beck and call of Chuck Schumer and the Democrats and Hakeem Jeffries?" Norman said on the "Just the News, Not Noise" TV program. "When I found out that funding for historically black colleges are in this bill, what's that? What has that got to do with national defense? Nothing."

Norman said there are "two cancers in this country" right now.

"The cancer of overspending to the tune of $33 trillion and counting. And then the invasion at the border, which is a national security threat," he said, noting the record number of suspected terrorists who have been apprehended at the border this year.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., slammed the NDAA ahead of the final vote on the House floor.

"I regret that I rise in opposition to the FY24 NDAA because there is a great deal of good in it. But only in Washington must we bring a bill to the floor so that we are able to militarily confront China, while at the same time embracing the policies that make the United States more like China," he said. "This bill is insufficient to deal with the structural challenges that we see at the Department of Defense where they have veered substantially left. It does not deserve an affirmative vote with the unnecessary and uncalled-for extension of FISA spying authorities that we know have already been abused."

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