Republicans Want To Crack Down on FBI Spying They Approved 2 Months Ago


House conservatives are pushing for an amendment that would require the FBI to obtain a warrant before conducting searches using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Congress is set to consider legislation that would reauthorize Section 702 of FISA, which allows federal law enforcement to listen in on the communications of foreigners abroad without a warrant, including some “incidental” communications involving Americans.

Section 702 has long sparked bipartisan privacy concerns, but some MAGA Republicans have staunchly opposed it due to the FBI allegedly surveilling a Donald Trump 2016 campaign aide using unrelated FISA warrants.

In December, the House of Representatives voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a 4-month extension of FISA. The $886 billion bill was passed with both bipartisan support and dissent, as 147 Republicans and 163 Democrats voted for its reauthorization. Meanwhile, 73 Republicans and 45 Democrats opposed the measure.

Now Congress is set to consider a new reauthorization of FISA on Thursday. Several conservatives are pushing for an amendment requiring a warrant in order for federal law enforcement agencies to search Americans.

Rep. Thomas Massie on June 8, 2022, in Washington D.C. Massie is among the conservative lawmakers pushing for an amendment that would require federal agencies to obtain a warrant before conducting searches of Americans using…

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, wrote in a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Wednesday morning that there will be a “recorded vote on an amendment to reform this program so the feds will have to get a warrant to search U.S. citizens’ communications,” describing the program as “unconstitutional.”

“Corrupt bureaucrats have used FISA 702 to snoop on Americans under the guise of ‘national security.’ Now there’s talk of quietly reauthorizing it in a secret session. We should debate this publicly for the people to see. Enough is enough,” posted Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican.

“Under no circumstance should the federal government spy on the American people without a warrant! Congress shouldn’t waste its time on meaningless FISA ‘reform’ but work to abolish this unconstitutional abuse of power!” posted Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Montana Republican.

Each of these lawmakers voted against the reauthorizing FISA in the NDAA late last year.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said during a White House press briefing on Wednesday that a warrant requirement would “go too far in undermining the very purpose of FISA” and “put victims at risk.”

“We do not believe that that serves the national security interests of the United States, and in fact today I will be making that case to a number of members that the warrant requirement as conceived is not the best way actually to ensure the protection of the personal privacy of Americans,” he said.

“There are a number of other elements of the bill that we have supported that would reform and update FISA to protect the civil liberties of Americans.”

Newsweek reached out to House Speaker Mike Johnson’s office for comment via email.