Renewal of controversial surveillance law screeches to a halt in the House

Lawmakers defeated a procedure allowing debate on extending Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., listens during a press conference following a House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S Capitol on April 10, 2024 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Nineteen Republicans joined Democrats in the House to block floor consideration of legislation Wednesday that would have extended controversial, expiring surveillance powers.

The 228-183 procedural vote is the latest setback on a long-term extension of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the third time House lawmakers have tried and failed to renew the measure. 

With Wednesday’s vote, the House slammed the breaks on extending Section 702 powers before they are set to expire on April 19. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., had warned lawmakers that if the House didn’t act on the legislation — which includes changes meant to strengthen oversight of a program that’s been implicated in abuses like improper spying on Black Lives Matter protesters — the Senate was likely to send over a “clean” extension.

Johnson said after the vote that Republicans would “regroup and reformulate another plan” on the extension of Section 702.


While privacy advocates have criticized Section 702, national security officials have said it’s the “crown jewel” of U.S. intelligence and touted its usefulness in cybersecurity investigations.

In advance of the vote, former President Donald Trump posted a message on Truth Social. “KILL FISA, IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS. THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!!!”

The Justice Department has acknowledged that two of the four orders issued under the broader FISA law to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were invalid, although Section 702 authorities weren’t related to those problems.

The procedural vote Wednesday to advance a rule for floor debate would have allowed for a vote on the key change sought by critics of Section 702: a warrant requirement for when U.S. officials query the 702 surveillance database for Americans and people on U.S. soil.  

Some lawmakers said the bill should already have included a warrant requirement, rather than putting that tweak up for a vote as an amendment.  And some faulted Johnson for choosing a House Intelligence Committee-backed extension over a Judiciary-backed bill that included the warrant requirement.


Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who voted against the rule, said on the floor that “unfortunately, the legislation before us doesn’t do what’s necessary … to secure the people’s rights.”

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, D-N.M., contended that the rule prevented votes on “many important amendments” to a Section 702 extension.

Tim Starks

Written by Tim Starks

Tim Starks is senior reporter at CyberScoop. His previous stops include working at The Washington Post, POLITICO and Congressional Quarterly. An Evansville, Ind. native, he's covered cybersecurity since 2003. Email Tim here:

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