Washington, DC — Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) sent a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell in opposition to reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) alongside the National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA).
“The privacy of Americans should be of the utmost importance to our government, and yet, we have seen too many examples of unchecked, warrantless surveillance of Americans,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “An overhaul is necessary to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights and their sensitive, personal data. Section 702 reauthorization should be subject to strong scrutiny and debate and cannot be included in larger, must-pass legislation. Congress must work to stop the government from warrantlessly spying on Americans.”
“Under no circumstance should Congress fully reauthorize Section 702 of FISA as an attachment to the NDAA,” said Rep. Warren Davidson. “Under Section 702, U.S. Intelligence agencies conduct mass warrantless surveillance on American citizens and a clean reauthorization or extension only continues this abuse. Congress must allow opportunity for open debate, amendments, and reform prior to any reauthorization of this legislation.”
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it would be unwise and dangerous for Members of Congress to greenlight another major surveillance reauthorization without carefully considering and enacting robust reforms. That includes through the NDAA process,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “Section 702 of FISA has strayed from its original foreign anti-terrorism intent, leading to a situation where the government is searching Americans’ private communications—such as internet activity, phone records, texts, and more—without obtaining warrants. It is possible and necessary for Congress to both preserve national security and curb surveillance abuse. By enacting the Government Surveillance Reform Act and not sneakily providing a short-term extension for programs that law enforcement agencies admit bypass the Fourth Amendment, Congress can protect Americans’ civil liberties.”
“The intelligence community is attacking our Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Rogue actors continue to abuse FISA Section 702 to improperly spy on American citizens, and it is far past time for the practice to come to an end. The Fourth Amendment guarantees Americans a reasonable expectation of privacy, and the government should never be given the opportunity to skirt the supreme Law of the Land. Reauthorization of this spying authority cannot be tied to a massive piece of ‘must-pass’ legislation like the NDAA. This would be an affront to the American people—who have voiced their strong disapproval of Section 702—and to the integrity of the legislative process. The Judiciary Committee is on the cusp of marking up a standalone FISA reform bill and I urge my colleagues to support its reforms. I am thankful for Rep. Davidson and Rep. Lofgren’s leadership on this important issue,” said Rep. Andy Biggs.
Reps. Jayapal, Davidson, Lofgren, and Biggs are joined by 51 House Republican and Democrat colleagues in opposition to reauthorizing FISA via the NDAA or any other “must-pass” legislative vehicle. Read the full letter here or an excerpt below:
“We write to express our opposition to attaching any short-term reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA) or other “must-pass” vehicle. A temporary extension would be entirely unnecessary, and it would be an inexcusable violation of the public’s trust to quietly greenlight an authority that has been flagrantly abused.”