House Blocks FISA Spy Bill, Opponents Demand Warrant Requirement
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) speaks alongside fellow Freedom Caucus members during a press conference on the government funding bill at the U.S. Capitol on March 22, 2024 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the GOP-led House blocked the advancement of a bill that sought to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for five years and implement reforms on the controversial spy tool.

The vote tanked a rule to bring the legislation up for consideration, creating a major setback for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who vouched for the bill after former President Donald Trump urged lawmakers to reject the spy program used to monitor non-U.S. citizens abroad.

Nineteen Republicans joined with all voting Democrats to oppose moving forward. The final tally was 193-228. Ten members, including six Republicans and four Democrats, did not vote.

What leadership will do next is not immediately clear, but it is possible lawmakers will go for another extension with no reforms. They have until April 19 to reauthorize Section 702 before it sunsets.

Many of the lawmakers who opposed the bill demanded the addition of a warrant requirement for government officials seeking to access data concerning U.S. citizens — ostensibly for law enforcement purposes — that gets swept up in the monitoring of foreign persons.

“There is no shortage of spying authority abuses by the weaponized FBI. Get a warrant,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said in a post to X, after noting “3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans’ private communications. 278,000 improper searches on American citizens. 19,000 improper searches of donors to a congressional candidate.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also pushed for a warrant amendment to “protect” Americans. “FISA bill says FBI has to notify Congressmembers to spy on us, but regular Americans can be spied on without a warrant?” she asked on X.

Trump, who is again running for the presidency, posted to Truth Social earlier in the day voicing opposition. “KILL FISA, IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!” he said, along with his initials.

The former president has criticized the surveillance tool ever since it emerged that the FBI snooped on his 2016 campaign aide Carter Page, using an unverified dossier to obtain warrants under a different part of FISA, Section 701.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) told reporters he looked forward to discussing the FISA issue with Trump, saying the former president is “not wrong” about its misuse.


The FISA 702 reauthorization legislation contains reforms that would “actually kill the abuses” directed at Trump’s 2016 campaign, Johnson insisted.

“There are massive new, for example, criminal and civil penalties for using opposition research or leaking FISA applications or illegal spying. If an FBI agent or an attorney is involved in something like that, under these reforms in this reform package, they could get 10 years of jail time,” he said.

“That’s real teeth,” Johnson added. “And there’s a number of other reforms and measures in there. President Trump used the intel from this program to kill terrorists and we have to kill the abuses.”

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