Power Wars Blog by Charlie Savage

Lawmakers Warn Against Any Attempt to Jam 702 Surveillance Reauthorization Without a Real Debate

A bipartisan group of 10 senators today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today urging him not to try to attach an extension of the expiring warrantless surveillance program law, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, to some other must-pass bill and trying to jam it through without debate. If there is no time for a debate now, they “ask that reauthorization be limited to a matter of months to allow time for proper debate on the issue in the early part of 2018.”

Separately, two days ago, 34 House members wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan to “demand” that 702 reauthorization be debated as a stand-alone bill rather than attached to the continuing resolution that Congress will have to take up before the end of the month to keep the government from shutting down.

“The House exists to debate the very sorts of issues raised by the FISA Amendments Act, and we insist on the opportunity to do so,” they wrote.

Tick tock. But! Important reminder: Notwithstanding the implication some rhetoric about the imminent sunset, the Trump administration believes collection can lawfully continue under the program through April, when the current court orders expire, even if Congress does let Section 702 lapse on December 31. It is therefore not preparing to shut down the program on New Year’s Day no matter what happens.

Here are the two letters: