Johnson may turn to 'clean' FISA extension after bill with warrant requirement amendment fails

The vote to block the rule providing for House floor consideration of the bill was 228 to 193, with 19 Republicans voting not to advance the bill

Published: April 10, 2024 11:00pm

Updated: April 11, 2024 12:51am

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., could now turn to a clean Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act extension bill after a reauthorization bill with a bipartisan warrant requirement amendment failed to advance in the GOP-led House on Wednesday.

The "Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act" would have extended Section 702 of FISA for 5 years.

A group of amendments to the bill including a warrant requirement had cleared the House Rules Committee on Tuesday night. The vote to block the rule providing for House floor consideration of the bill was 228 to 193, with 19 Republicans voting not to advance the bill. The latest vote reportedly marks the seventh time a rule has failed on the House floor under Johnson's speakership.

Ahead of the scheduled vote on Wednesday, former President Trump had posted on Truth Social that the GOP should "kill FISA." Johnson reacted to Trump's post ahead of the vote.

"I look forward to talking with him about it. Here's the thing about FISA, he's not wrong, of course, they abused FISA," Johnson said, referring to the launch of the Russia collusion probe. "These reforms would actually kill the abuses that allowed President Trump's campaign to be spied on."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., applauded the 19 Republicans who voted to block the bill from moving forward. "19 Republicans stood strong and defeated the FISA bill today, instead insisting on real reform to FISA (no secret courts should be allowed to spy on Americans)," he wrote on X in response to a post listing each GOP lawmaker who voted no.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said the 19 Republicans who voted against the rule also blocked the chance for an up or down vote on the warrant requirement amendment, which would have prohibited "warrantless searches of U.S. person communications in the FISA 702 database."

“By voting with every Democrat to take down the rule, the 19 also killed a vote on requiring a warrant to spy on Americans,” Massie wrote on X.

“But a likely outcome now is that the swamp passes FISA without warrants and there is never a vote on warrants, so no one will be held accountable,” he added. 

Massie predicted the FISA bill will come back to the House floor in “worse condition.” 

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, urged lawmakers not to "fall for the hyperbole" after the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act was blocked on Wednesday. The FISA extension expires on April 19.

"The sky is not about to fall. We must not allow for a 'clean' reauthorization of FISA 702. We must continue to fight until we can attach a warrant requirement to FISA 702. Get a warrant!" Lee wrote on X.

Many of the Republicans who voted against advancing the FISA bill were members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

The exact path forward that House leadership is going to take prior to the April 19 expiration is unclear. In the absence of House action, the Democratic-led Senate could pass a clean FISA extension that Johnson might then put to a floor vote. However, a senior Republican congressional source who declined to be named told Just the News that there's no guarantee a clean FISA extension without amendments would pass on House floor either. He noted that the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act could come back to the House floor for a vote without amendments such as the warrant requirement but there is a chance it would also fail to pass.

"We will regroup and reformulate another plan. We cannot allow section 702 advisor to expire. it's too important national security," Johnson said after Wednesday's vote.

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