GOP Whip Steve Scalise announces he will whip against the FISA reauthorization bill

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) announced on a conference call with Republican colleagues Wednesday that he will be whipping against the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization bill, according to Fox News’ Mike Emmanuel.

The bill, officially termed the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020, was passed by the Senate and sent back to the House earlier this month. But according to Politico, the bill, which aims to renew key domestic surveillance powers, was only passed after civil libertarians were able to add amendments limiting those powers.

Following the Senate vote, Justice Department national security spokesman Marc Raimondi said in a statement that the amendments to the bill “would unacceptably degrade our ability to conduct surveillance of terrorists, spies and other national security threats.”

Despite the changes, on Tuesday, President Trump put pressure on Republicans in the House by tweeting out his opposition to the bill.

“I hope all Republican House Members vote NO on FISA until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!” Trump wrote.

In the tweet, the president made mention of allegations that the Obama administration improperly used the federal government’s surveillance powers, specifically the FISA process, to spy on his incoming administration in 2016. After all, it was the FISA warrant process that launched the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign.

In a report last December, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that FBI officials “fell far short” of bureau policy by making at least “17 significant errors” in its FISA applications.

Since then, newly declassified documents from the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn have further raised questions about the Obama administration’s use of surveillance powers on the retired general.

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Author: Phil Shiver

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