Dear Colleague on FISA
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Traditionally, the vote to reauthorize FISA, which is a critical pillar of our national security, has been bipartisan. Two months ago, the House passed our strong FISA bill on an overwhelmingly bipartisan 278-136 basis – with the support of nearly two-thirds of House Republicans – and sent it to the Senate. The Senate then amended our bill to make it more protective of civil liberties and passed it 80-16, with the support of 48 of 53 Republicans.
As recently as yesterday, the Republican Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee testified at the Rules Committee hearing in support of the bill. Specifically, on the Senate Amendments, he stated: “Finally, I would like to thank Senators Lee and Leahy for their amendment to the House-passed bill which strengthens the amicus role in these proceedings by extending them to any sensitive investigative matter involving any US persons.”
Hours later, the President tweeted that he would veto the bill, and House Republicans abandoned their support for our national security.
The Administration – particularly some in the Justice Department – would like nothing better than to not have a bill. Without a bill, there would be none of the bill’s important protections for civil liberties. Without a bill, there would be all the leeway in the world not to protect Americans’ privacy.
Clearly, because House Republicans have prioritized politics over our national security, we will no longer have a bipartisan veto-proof majority. Therefore, as Leader Hoyer just announced, we will no longer be voting on the FISA bill today.
It will be our intention to go to conference in order to ensure that all of the views of all Members of our Caucus are represented in the final product.
Thank you for your leadership and patriotism.