Johnson Shamed After Trump’s Push Kills Surveillance Bill

( – The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) allows the government to surveil and collect foreign intelligence within the US to prevent terrorist activity and identify spies. Section 702 of that same act extends that power outside the United States, allowing the federal government to watch foreign nationals and collect information without requiring a warrant. That piece must be re-authorized periodically by Congress but recently ran into some resistance.

On April 10, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) called for a preliminary vote to advance the matter, as Section 702 expires in about a week, on April 19. However, his efforts fell flat after former President Donald Trump posted an order to his loyalists in the House to stop the bill. They did. Nineteen Republicans from the far Right wing of the Lower Chamber joined Democrats in voting no on the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act. If advanced, the measure would not only re-authorize but also make changes to Section 702 — including requiring a warrant before surveilling outside the US.

While the measure was viewed as an embarrassing failure for the House speaker, Johnson didn’t seem bothered by the result. He told reporters he was confident there were other ways to push the measure forward before the deadline. Recent reports stated the Louisiana lawmaker would soon visit Trump at his home in Florida where they are scheduled to make an announcement. It’s unclear if Johnson will take the opportunity to speak to the former president about the FISA measure to seek help in bringing the Freedom Caucus and other GOP House members on board.

Among those who joined Democrats in voting against advancing the measure were Representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Scott Perry (R-PA). Representative Bob Good (R-VA) stated he and the others want to ensure the federal “government can’t keep spying on us citizens without a warrant.” Given their stance, Johnson’s next move is unclear.

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