Biden Backs FISA Bill as Speaker Mike Johnson Moves Again to Renew Spy Powers Authority

UNITED STATES - MARCH 15: President Joe Biden, left, and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Joe Biden backed a bill House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) hopes to pass on Friday that would reauthorize a controversial surveillance bill.

President Joe Biden’s administration announced its support for H.R. 7888, the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act (RISAA), a bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 702 is a law that is meant to target foreign adversaries but often surveils Americans’ private communications without a warrant.

House Republicans on Wednesday killed the rule that would have allowed the vote on RISAA; Johnson vowed to try again on Friday.

The Biden administration also came out against Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-AZ) amendment that would require a warrant for searching Americans’ communications.

“Our intelligence, defense, and public safety communities are united: the extensive harms of this proposal simply cannot be mitigated. Therefore, the Administration strongly opposes the amendment.”

Biggs said in response to the White House statement, “Of course Joe doesn’t support a warrant requirement. His weaponized federal police apparatus wouldn’t be able to spy on American citizens anymore. GET A WARRANT.”

Biggs is the sponsor of the House Judiciary Committee-advanced Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, which was hailed as one of the most significant privacy reform bills in several generations.

“Does the @HouseGOP stand with Joe Biden or with Americans and their constitutional rights? We’ll find out tomorrow,” the Freedom Caucus wrote.

During Tuesday’s Rules Committee hearing, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) questioned House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) about how, in RISAA, the director of the FBI would have to notify congressional leadership of any search of a lawmaker, and that lawmaker would have to notify the lawmaker.

The legislation would also require the FBI to obtain permission from a lawmaker if the agency were to conduct a defensive search of an alleged counterintelligence threat.

This seeks to address a 2023 controversy in which Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), a House Intelligence Committee member, revealed that he believed the FBI surveilled him through Section 702 without “limiters.” The FBI later claimed that this was a defensive counterintelligence measure.

If RISAA were enacted, Americans would not receive the lawmakers’ privilege.

Massie wrote, “I questioned Intel Committee Chairman Turner about special treatment Congressmen get in the proposed FISA bill. Instead of giving a carve out to Congress from unconstitutional spying, just require a warrant for all Americans! Get a warrant!”

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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