Apr 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House GOP pauses infighting to move forward on key surveillance bill

US House Speaker Mike Johnson looks on after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed a joint meeting of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2024. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A House bill aimed at reauthorizing FISA, the key surveillance bill, overcame a procedural hurdle on Friday after heated GOP infighting earlier this week.

Why it matters: Leadership agreed to have the bill expire in two years instead of five, arguing that the new timeline would provide them another opportunity to tackle the bill if former President Trump takes back the White House.

  • The bill is expected to pass later Friday with bipartisan support.

Zoom in: Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and his leadership team worked late into Wednesday evening and Thursday talking to defectors of the bill — which would reauthorize the government's ability to conduct surveillance on noncitizens citizens abroad.

  • Conservatives cited the exclusion of language on warrant requirements as their reason behind tanking the rule vote on Wednesday despite being offered an amendment vote.
  • "It gives a lot of people hope we will get another bite of the apple when Trump's president," one lawmaker said.

The intrigue: The change to the bill came after a fiery conference meeting on Wednesday afternoon, with security and privacy hawks sharply divided on the warrant language which remains out of the current bill.

  • Conservatives and Trump blasted the measure arguing it does not go far enough to protect American's privacy rights and argued that FISA was used to illegally spy on the Trump campaign.
  • But national security hawks argued the warrant language would hinder the country's ability to assess threats in real time, noting the measure included an array of reforms to prevent misuse for political purposes.
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