/Surveillance bill clears House, but Senate fate remains murky

Surveillance bill clears House, but Senate fate remains murky

The president has lashed out previously at FBI surveillance tactics. Trump most recently seized on a Justice Department watchdog report that detailed failures by the agency in obtaining a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page in late 2016, weeks after he departed the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser.

The president’s objections became an awkward obstacle in an already complex path to reauthorizing the provisions and became another example of how his rhetoric was interfering his own administration’s national security objectives.

The measure now heads to the Senate, where it could still face a filibuster.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Wednesday he would “use every option at my disposal to stop the House bill and to offer up amendments.”

“There are a lot of procedural tools at our disposal,” the Utah Republican said. “The rules and the clock are on our side here.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) likewise said that he is pushing for an amendment stating that “FISA warrants can’t be used on Americans and no information gathered in the FISA court can be used to convict an American.”

The objections could scuttle the bipartisan deal negotiated in part by Attorney General William Barr.

Barr told GOP senators that he could institute new oversight of FISA before Trump’s comments contradicted him and also met with House Republicans in McCarthy’s office earlier this week. He also made a number of tweaks to get the administration’s support, which he announced earlier on Wednesday.

“The bill contains an array of new requirements and compliance provisions that will protect against abuse and misuse in the future while ensuring that this critical tool is available when appropriate to protect the safety of the American people,” Barr said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also backs the House measure, according to Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

He predicted that Trump would end up signing the bill, given the amount of GOP support.

“I don’t think he would have any objection,” said Burr.

A senior administration official the president “remains open” but wants to ensure that all voices are heard.

Lee said that he spoke to Trump Tuesday evening and plans to speak with the president again Wednesday to urge him to veto the bill.

The measure closely resembles the bill Democrats weeks ago scrapped a vote on after Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) revealed she planned to introduce a series of amendments that enjoyed bipartisan support from progressives and libertarians.

The new legislation includes a series of provisions meant to temper Trump’s fiercest congressional allies, who have raged about FISA since shortly after the 2016 presidential election. It increases the criminal penalties for FISA misuse, including presenting false information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The House bill ends the National Security Agency’s call detail records program. The effort, which allowed the agency to gather the data of Americans’ telephone calls and text messages with court approval, was deactivated last year following years of technical headaches. A recent watchdog report found the dormant program cost $100 million and led to just one investigation in four years.

It also extends other surveillance tools, predominantly used by the FBI and created shortly after 9/11, for another three years.

Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.