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Conservatives Angry About FISA Passage Without Warrant Requirement

House conservatives expressed deep dissatisfaction with their GOP colleagues following the recent decision to pass a revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without a crucial warrant requirement, a move that has stirred internal conflict within the party.

The contentious bill, debated and passed last Friday, has particularly intensified scrutiny and opposition toward House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.

The core of the dispute centers around the extension of Section 702 of FISA, a highly debated aspect of the law that permits certain types of surveillance by agencies such as the FBI.

Speaker Mike Johnson (Credits: NBC News)

This section was originally set to be reauthorized for five years, but in a strategic shift, Johnson adjusted the term to two years. He aimed to mollify conservative members of his party who have long been critical of FISA’s potential for overreach and privacy violations.

However, Johnson’s compromise fell short of conservative demands for stricter oversight, specifically the inclusion of a warrant requirement to prevent what they see as FBI abuses.

The proposed amendment for this requirement resulted in a tie vote of 212-212, leading to its failure due to procedural rules that dictate ties, which resulted in defeat. This outcome has fueled further ire among conservative ranks, prompting vows of political retribution against those who opposed the measure.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has been vocally critical of the bill’s passage and the failure to include the warrant requirement. “Every one of these members who voted against a warrant requirement is the deciding vote.

They own it,” Gaetz stated emphatically. He also threatened direct political action by stating his intention to campaign against those who voted against the amendment, highlighting the potential for intra-party challenges as the next election cycle approaches.

Speaker Mike Johnson (Credits: Rolling Stone)

Adding to the chorus of disapproval, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., commented on the loss of political capital for Johnson among conservative members, indicating a broad and deep-seated dissatisfaction that could have lingering effects on Johnson’s leadership.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 273-147 and now heads to the Senate. Conservative members, still reeling from the House vote, delayed its transmission in a last-ditch effort to generate opposition against the 86 Republicans who supported stripping the warrant requirement from the bill.

This episode not only highlights the internal divisions within the Republican Party but also underscores the ongoing debates over national security measures and civil liberties. As the Senate takes up the bill, all eyes will be on whether these tensions within the GOP will influence the outcome of the legislation.

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