Biden Supports FISA Bill as House Votes to Renew

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Wednesday urged the Senate to move “swiftly” to pass the bill that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before it expired on April 19.

The House approved reauthorization in a 273-147 vote on April 12, despite efforts by a group of Republican members who sought to include an amendment requiring the FBI to first obtain a search warrant before spying on American citizens.

In an April 17 statement, Sullivan lauded the House for its “robust bipartisan support” for the bill that would ensure that the government had “the tools” it needed “to protect our national security.” He urged the Senate to “quickly” pass the bill so it could reach President Biden’s desk.

The 19 conservatives who blocked the legislation earlier in the week relented on Friday, April 12 after reaching a deal with Speaker Mike Johnson that allowed the measure to move forward. Under the agreement, Section 702’s authorization would expire in two years rather than five.

The Republican hold-outs argued that this would give Donald Trump a chance to lead an effort to reform the law if he returned to the White House next year.

Donald Trump signed the bill reauthorizing Section 702 in 2018.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who was among the 19 hold-outs, said the original version would have extended Section 702 beyond the next presidential term while the compromise “bought President Trump an ‘at-bat.’”

The hold-outs also secured a vote on an amendment to require law enforcement to obtain warrants for US citizens and permanent residents whose communications were collected while surveilling foreigners. However, that amendment failed.

In his statement, Sullivan insisted that nothing in Section 702 permits the government to target US citizens or foreign nationals in the United States for surveillance but only “the communications of non-Americans located outside the United States.”