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Breaking News Alert This Week In Lawfare Land: 'Deadly Force'

House Speaker Kills Effort To Stop The Feds From Spying On Americans Without A Warrant

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On Friday, House Speaker Mike Johnson and other Republicans joined enough Democrats to defeat 212-212 a bill amendment requiring the federal government to obtain a warrant before spying on Americans before they’re even accused of a crime.

The GOP-controlled House failed to add an amendment proposed by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., that would have altered Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to mandate that federal authorities obtain a warrant before surveilling American citizens. Johnson and 85 Republicans joined Democrats in killing Biggs’ proposal through a tied House vote.

The House passed the bill 273-147 to re-authorize the government’s use of FISA for the next two years, with 126 Republicans and 147 Democrats voting in favor. The bill must clear the Senate before it hits President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.

As my colleague Brianna Lyman previously explained, “Section 702 has allowed the government to carry out warrantless surveillance of American citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment and will expire on April 19 without further action from Congress.” According to Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, the White House’s Jake Sullivan and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland “call[ed] members on the Hill” this morning to pressure them into squashing Biggs’ amendment.

“[White House] working hard to defeat,” Sherman wrote on X.

Speaking in support of his measure on the House floor, Biggs blasted the Biden administration’s indefensible desire to continue spying on Americans without obtaining a warrant, a clear constitutional violation, and the absurd arguments employed by Section 702’s staunchest defenders.

“The administration cites multiple examples where using Section 702 [has been used] to monitor foreign targets and provide critical intelligence,” Biggs said during a House floor speech. “But when it comes to warrantless searches for Americans, they can’t provide any examples of where … that’s provided any useful information, and yet they want to continue to look at U.S. persons’ information without a warrant.”

During the 2016 election cycle, the FBI infamously abused FISA to spy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, leading to massively influential false claims Trump was a Russian asset and that Russia stole the election for Trump. As The Federalist previously reported, “the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign staffer Carter Page through a secret FISA court and did not alert the court that Christopher Steele, the man behind the discredited ‘Steele Dossier,’ was a spy.”

The feds have also used FISA to surveil hundreds of thousands of Americans. According to the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice, agencies such as the FBI and CIA have cited the statute to carry out more than 200,000 warrantless searches every year to snoop through Americans’ private communications.


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