Mike Johnson Aiming to Vote on Deep State Spy Powers Reauthorization Next Week

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is aiming to vote on reauthorizing and potentially reforming deep state powers next week, according to a report.

Politico reported compromise legislation is still being drafted between Republicans on the more privacy-minded Judiciary Committee, more intelligence-community-friendly members on the Intelligence Committee, and representatives from Republican leadership.

The bill would largely mirror a bill drafted by Intelligence Committee Republicans, and Judiciary Committee members and other privacy “hawks” would then be allowed to offer amendments, including one that would require a warrant before searching Americans’ private information under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Section 702 is a law that allows intelligence agencies to collect communications of targeted foreigners. It also may lead to targeted surveillance of Americans’ private communications, which privacy advocates consider a run around the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for a warrant to search Americans’ communications.

Politico noted that privacy hawks reportedly want to move quickly on privacy legislation to prevent intelligence community-centric lawmakers from a blanket reauthorization of the controversial surveillance law.

House Committee on the Judiciary / YouTube

“I think we’re really going to have to do something sooner rather than later,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a member of the working group and the author of the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, the House Judiciary Committee-advanced reform bill, said.

It remains unclear if there will be a fix for the so-called “data broker loophole” that allows intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and other agencies to purchase Americans’ private data through data brokers, which privacy advocates believe is a run around the Fourth Amendment.

“Intelligence agencies need a court order to obtain your data directly. But as usual, they look for any way to avoid scrutiny and skirt the law. The Deep State will go to any length to spy on the American people. The entire enterprise is rotten,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) said.

U.S. House of Representatives

The movement of a FISA reauthorization bill represents a key moment in Johnson’s speakership, as he faced staunch criticism for first declining to temporarily reauthorize FISA in a defense bill, then flip-flopping on his decision roughly 24 hours later.

Despite the drama, then-Rep. Johnson, a member of the Judiciary Committee, in 2022 pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the “broken FISA process.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 30: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) holds a news conference following a caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on January 30, 2024 in Washington, DC. With the support of Johnson and House GOP leadership, the Homeland Security Committee is expected to pass articles of impeachment today charging Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas with refusing to uphold the law and breaching the public’s trust. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Notably, Johnson voted for the USA RIGHTS Act in 2018, a bill that included the ending of the backdoor search loophole, which allowed intelligence agencies to spy on Americans through Section 702, which is supposed to be used to surveil foreign adversaries. Johnson backed the bill as an amendment in the nature of a substitute to the last 702 authorization battle in 2017.

Despite the uncertainty, Bigg’s team believes that there is room to improve the legislation as it works its way to the floor.

“This is all very fluid. We continue to work on language to try to cure the millions of abuses that the federal government has imposed on American citizens through the program. It will be up to the speaker when he brings a bill to the floor,” Matthew Tragesser, a spokesman for Biggs, told Breitbart News.

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


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