Biden Announced Support For FISA Reauthorization Ahead Of House Vote

One day before the House of Representatives managed to successfully pass a controversial intelligence bill, President Joe Biden expressed support for the legislation.

The House GOP has repeatedly thwarted the passage of a bill that would renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a controversial piece of legislation designed to monitor foreign national threats without warrants, which has faced criticism over its use in spying on American citizens.

On Friday April 12, one week before the act is set to expire, the House finally approved a slightly updated version of the bill. Just before, however, Biden expressed his support for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and his efforts to pass the measure. The message of endorsement from the White House came one day after Republicans blocked a procedural vote on the issue, leading Johnson to make another attempt to do so today.

In an effort to appease some Republicans of certain concerns with the language, Johnson entertained the possibility of imposing updates to the bill. These included reducing the length of the act’s validity from five years to two years and a proposal to add a requirement that government agencies obtain warrants for monitoring private communication of American citizens with people abroad.

The time frame suggestion reportedly helped to gain additional support from Republicans while the warrant stipulation failed to be approved by the majority. Although strongly in favor of renewing FISA, the Biden administration equally criticized the warrant amendment proposed by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

A statement from the White House explained that there is a “united” aspect to the American intelligence, defense and public safety agencies, leaving “the extensive harms of this proposal” unable to “be mitigated.” Because of this, the statement added, “the Administration strongly opposes the amendment.”

Biggs, however, expressed his lack of surprise that “Joe” is against requiring warrants to search the communications of American citizens. He criticized the president for having a “weaponized federal police apparatus” that would be unable to “spy on American citizens” if the warrant requirement were in place.

Johnson, on the other hand, has supported the reauthorization of FISA and faced considerable backlash for his efforts to get it through the House. The still newly elected Speaker has particularly been under fire from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who threatened to upend his leadership if he brought any bills to the legislative floor that supported Ukraine—another issue on which the two representatives disagree.

The House passed the bill to reauthorize FISA in 237-147. It will head to the Senate for further deliberation after a final vote in the House on Monday, according to Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).