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International Business Times
International Business Times
Kiran Tom Sajan

Amended FISA Bill Gains Momentum Among House Republicans After Deadlock

US House Speaker Mike Johnson (Credit: AFP)

A faction of Republicans who rejected a procedural vote on reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Wednesday might support it when a modified legislation comes up again for voting on Friday.

The House Rules Committee made progress late Thursday night by advancing the bill to renew the U.S.'s warrantless surveillance authority, sending the measure to the floor.

The updated version of the bill features a two-year reauthorization instead of the initially proposed five years.

This means that if former President Donald Trump were to win the presidential election this year, the legislation would be due for review in time for Trump to potentially overhaul FISA laws during his next term.

The 19 Republicans, who gave another blow to House Republican leadership on Wednesday by blocking an earlier version of the legislation, seemed to be more receptive to proposed modifications to the bill.

Following negotiations on Thursday, many of the hard-liners indicated that they would permit the legislation to move forward after securing some changes and commitments from leadership.

The committee voted 8-4 to adopt the rule governing debate on the legislation. This aims to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA, scheduled to expire on April 19.

Section 702 permits the warrantless surveillance of foreigners located abroad, a process that also involves the collection of communications involving Americans as they interact with the targeted individuals.

The House is likely to vote on the final bill on Friday, along with several proposed amendments. One such amendment seeks to introduce a warrant requirement before the government can review information collected on Americans.

Some staunch critics are heralding the two-year reauthorization as a significant victory, alongside an arrangement for a distinct floor vote next week on data privacy legislation proposed by Republican Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio.

Backing the amended legislation, Republican Matt Gaetz told CNN: "We just bought President Trump an at bat. The previous version of this bill would have kicked reauthorization beyond the Trump presidency. Now President Trump gets an at bat to fix the system that victimized him more than any other American."

According to an aide, House Speaker Mike Johnson has arranged for a reading room where members can review classified material in preparation for Friday's vote on the reauthorization of FISA. Johnson aims to use the classified information to persuade every member of the House that passing the FISA bill is vital for national security, particularly given the narrow majority.

Johnson is also likely to meet with Trump on Friday in Florida.

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