WASHINGTON – The house canceled plans to re-authorize key terrorism and espionage provisions on Thursday after President Donald Trump announced that he would veto the law, leaving the future of the main spy law unclear.
The house had originally planned to vote on Wednesday’s measure as one of the first tests for the Chamber’s new – and historical – proxy system, which was developed following the coronavirus pandemic. After the vote was delayed for several hours, the House Democrats withdrew the legislation.
The road to adoption of the laws, which were originally supported by two parties, became cloudy on Wednesday after Trump sent a series of tweets expressing his dissatisfaction. Republican House representatives quickly dropped their support and the abolition of an amendment to the law prompted some progressives to join the Republicans to refuse to re-approve the spy program.
The house planned to try again on Thursday, but took the bill for lack of support. Instead, leadership of the House of Representatives announced that it would work with the Senate on another version of the measure to ensure that it was adopted, and left those surveillance provisions – which became obsolete in March – pending.
The president praised the news in a tweet on Thursday and thanked the Republicans for blocking the measure. “Fantastic job!” he wrote. On Wednesday, Trump threatened that he would “quickly VETO” the legislation if it reached his desk.
Many thanks to our GREAT Republican Congressmen and women congressmen for their incredibly important blockade of a FISA law that would maintain the abuse that has resulted in the greatest political crime in US history, the Russian witch hunt. Fantastic job!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), May 28, 2020
The president, who scolded the FBI’s oversight of his campaign in 2016, has long indicated that he should veto legislation if there is no investigation into what he sees as a “coup” against his presidency. Hours before the house was due to vote on the measure on Wednesday, the president urged the Republicans to reject it, prompting many to pause before the legislation was passed.
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Attorney General William Barr, who was instrumental in the legislative process and initially supported the measure, rejects the latest version and will urge the President to veto it. Deputy Attorney General Stephen Boyd said Wednesday that the amended law would “unacceptably affect” the government’s ability to persecute terrorists and spies.
Demand for reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) picked up pace last year after the Inspector General of the Justice Department uncovered significant errors and misstatements in FBI requests to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
The bill, which is the result of a rare bipartisan effort, re-approves key surveillance laws that expired in March, while expanding the government’s ability to collect private information about Americans. Legislation, however, lags behind the extensive reforms advocated by privacy and civil liberties advocates.
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In addition to the uncertainty caused by Trump’s opposition, Wednesday’s vote also served as a key test for the new house proxy rules adopted earlier this month and allowed a member to change legislators other than his ” Proxy “to determine and cast votes.
For the first time, Parliament voted on several measures in this way on Wednesday, including a Chinese sanctions law condemning the torture of Uyghur Muslims, a historic milestone that was not without controversy.
While the goal was to give lawmakers a voice if they could not travel safely to Washington due to the coronavirus pandemic, House republicans have argued that the rule is not constitutional and filed a lawsuit against them on Tuesday evening .
Republicans argue that any measure adopted under this format, particularly one that casts a voting vote, could be subject to legal challenge – which could cause a potential wave effect on FISA and evidence gathered through the espionage program.
Legislation tightens criminal sanctions for making false statements to the secret surveillance court for foreign intelligence agencies, which approves surveillance requests. It empowers the Attorney General to sign surveillance requests from elected officials and federal candidates, prevents the government from receiving cell phone and GPS locations from vendors, and strengthens the court’s powers to appoint independent parties to oversee the process.
The bill re-approved three key surveillance provisions by December 2023: the so-called “business records” that empower the government to collect information from telephone and internet providers; “Roving wiretaps” that investigators can use to eavesdrop on those who change phone numbers or purchase “burner” phones; and “lone wolf” that allows the government to monitor foreigners suspected of helping foreign terrorists but who are not tied to international terrorist groups.
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And it permanently ends a controversial program that collected metadata on phone calls, including more than 430 million in 2018. The National Security Agency has suspended the program.
The house first passed the bill in March on a 278-136. Barr praised the measure and said it would protect against abuse of surveillance powers while adhering to important provisions that allow the government to investigate terrorists.
However, the Department of Justice rejected the version that the Senate passed last week with 80-16 votes, saying it would reduce investigative powers. The senators added a change that requires supervisory judges to appoint third parties for sensitive investigations. These neutral observers can address any issues to the court and have access to all documents related to surveillance requests.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: FISA: House takes Trump’s veto threat into account