Politics & Policy

House Dems Forced to Scrap FISA Vote following Trump Veto Promise

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) adjusts her face mask as she arrives inside the U.S. Capitol. April 21, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said they were cancelling a vote on FISA renewal Thursday, after House Republicans and progressive Democrats signaled they would not support the reauthorization of expired domestic surveillance powers and President Trump said he would veto the bill if it passed.

In statements announcing the move, Pelosi and Hoyer both blamed the Republican minority.

“Clearly, because House Republicans have prioritized politics over our national security, we will no longer have a bipartisan veto-proof majority,” Pelosi said. She later accused Republicans of having “abandoned their commitment to security,” citing House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), who was instrumental in establishing an initial deal on FISA renewal in March.

Hoyer pointed out that “two-thirds” of Republicans who voted for the original bill “have indicated they are going to vote against it now,” after President Trump tweeted definitively Wednesday night that he would “quickly VETO” the bill if it came to his desk.

“Thank you to our GREAT Republican Congressmen & Congresswomen on your incredibly important blockage last night of a FISA Bill that would just perpetuate the abuse that produced the Greatest Political Crime In the History of the U.S., the Russian Witch-Hunt. Fantastic Job!” Trump tweeted Thursday after news of the bill’s stoppage.

Progressive Democrats, led by Representative Mark Pocan of Washington, also signaled opposition to the bill on Wednesday, arguing that it did not go far enough to enact reforms.

The Senate passed its version of the FISA bill earlier this month on an 80-16 vote, amended with further civil liberties protections proposed by Mike Lee (R., Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.). A different amendment — proposed by Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Steve Daines (R., Mt.) — which would protect Americans’ web browsing and internet search history from warrantless surveillance, failed by one vote, causing the same effort to be taken up in the House by Warren Davidson (R., Ohio) and Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.).

But after an agreement was reached with Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) to amend some language in order to weaken the search history protections, Wyden said in a statement that the changes failed to “fully protect Americans from warrantless collection,” and urged the House to vote against it.

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