FISA Spying

Warrantless Spying on Americans Will Continue Thanks to 86 “Republicans” Who Voted With the Deep State

(The Daily Signal)—A rare tie vote in the U.S. House spelled defeat for an amendment that would have prohibited warrantless searches of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

House lawmakers faced renewed pressure Friday from both conservatives and liberals to strengthen protections for Americans as they debated reauthorization of the controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. Their amendment failed, 212-212, with 128 Republicans and 84 Democrats voting in favor; 13 members didn’t vote.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who sponsored the amendment said afterward that “86 Republicans voted with Joe Biden and the Uniparty to allow the FBI to continue spying on Americans without a warrant. The Swamp is deep.”

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who sponsored the amendment said afterward that “86 Republicans voted with Joe Biden and the Uniparty to allow the FBI to continue spying on Americans without a warrant. The Swamp is deep.”

Heritage Action, a conservative grassroots organization, urged lawmakers to adopt a bipartisan amendment banning warrantless searches of Americans. (The Daily Signal is the news organization of The Heritage Foundation, an independent partner of Heritage Action.)

“The FBI’s repeated misuse of Section 702 to abuse Americans’ constitutional rights is a disgrace,” said Ryan Walker, executive vice president of Heritage Action. “If Congress reauthorizes Section 702 without strong reforms, lawmakers will have missed a massive opportunity to end some of the federal government’s glaring abuses.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., voted against the amendment, resulting in the tie.

The White House deployed administration officials in a last-ditch effort to lobby members of Congress against the amendment. Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan were on the phone with lawmakers while others from the CIA, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and National Security Council huddled near the House floor.

Shortly after rejecting the amendment, the House voted 273-147 to reauthorize FISA.

The underlying legislation has divided Republicans, given the federal government’s past abuses of FISA. Earlier this week, 19 Republicans dealt a blow to Johnson, a supporter of the legislation, when they joined with Democrats to defeat a procedural motion on the bill.

Section 702 of FISA allows the U.S. government to gather intelligence on individuals located outside the country. In recent years, however, agencies such as the FBI have abused the law. The FBI, for example, misused the Section 702 database more than 278,000 times to collect information on American citizens.

The proposed amendment to HR 7888, known as the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, would have banned warrantless searches of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. In addition to Biggs, the amendment was co-sponsored by Warren Davidson, R-Ohio; Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.

“Several good amendments were offered to improve and reform FISA, including a commonsense amendment offered by my friend, Rep. Biggs, that would have prevented warrantless searches of Americans,” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said in a statement. “Sadly, 86 Republicans and 126 Democrats inexcusably voted to allow the deep state to continue spying on Americans without a warrant by voting down this amendment.”

This article was updated to include information of the House’s votes.