On Wednesday night, after President Trump encouraged House GOP members to oppose a bill that would reauthorize surveillance programs that had been shelved, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated and canceled a vote on the bill. Trump had tweeted Wednesday afternoon, “If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!”
If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) office announced, “Members are advised that votes are no longer expected in the House tonight,” while a Democratic aide echoed there would be “no further votes” on Wednesday.
The Hill reported that Pelosi canceled the vote after her office spoke with the White House legislative affairs office. The Hill noted, “The bill reauthorizes three surveillance programs under the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 intelligence reform law, and makes some changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.”
On Wednesday morning, Trump had contacted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) to counsel him to reject the measure. A source told The Hill, “We mounted an aggressive whip effort all day. Democrats were banking on picking off some of our members to get them over the top and tried to work that, but we held our members together, and because of that, Democrats couldn’t get there and had to pull the bill. Trump and Scalise spoke again tonight after the bill was pulled.”
Scalise said later, “We just formally announced a whip against it because, number one, it’s not going to become law. Number two, there are still so many questions that need to be answered about real abuses that happened in the FISA system,”
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, stated, “FISA is a crucially important set of authorities and it’s a set of authorities that was abused. We have to make sure that we deal with the abuse and that we address the abuse, but we should not push through a bill which, in my view, would fundamentally weaken our ability to keep the nation safe because of the amendments that have been added to that bill, and we shouldn’t do that with proxy vote,” as RollCall reported.
Before she canceled the vote, Pelosi had said on a PBS Newshour interview:
There are some that say, “I don’t like this, I don’t like that.” And if they don’t want to vote for a bill, then we’ll just send back our House bill, which isn’t as good as the Senate bill. The Senate bill was very courageous, broke new ground, very progressive in terms of protecting the balance between security, privacy, security and civil rights. That’s the constant balance that we have to have and this bill does it very well.
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