Originally passed in 1978, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is meant to govern how foreign agents are monitored within the United States. Although U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating allegations that it was used to target the Trump campaign in 2016, its provisions were reportedly on track to be renewed in the coming days even in the absence of meaningful reforms.
However, the plan to reauthorize those lapsed surveillance programs went awry on Wednesday evening after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) decided to cancel the vote amid bipartisan concerns about its prospects for passage.
“Members are advised that votes are no longer expected in the House tonight,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced at around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to The Hill.
The decision came amid fears that Republicans would succeed at torpedoing the legislation, something that House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said was a priority, according to The Blaze.
Questions about FISA abuse remain
“We just formally announced a whip against it because, number one, it’s not going to become law,” Scalise declared, according to The Hill.
“Number two,” the Louisiana Republican continued, “there are still so many questions that need to be answered about real abuses that happened in the FISA system.”
What’s more, The Hill pointed to an anonymous source who boasted that House Republicans “mounted an aggressive whip effort all day.”
“Democrats were banking on picking off some of our members to get them over the top and tried to work that, but we held our members together, and because of that, Democrats couldn’t get there and had to pull the bill,” the individual continued, adding, “Trump and Scalise spoke again tonight after the bill was pulled.”
For his part, President Donald Trump made clear that even if the FISA renewal legislation did manage to pass, it still wouldn’t go any further than his desk.
“If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!” he said in a tweet.
However, it wasn’t just Republicans who stood in opposition to the bill; Democratic Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan also voiced their disapproval.
“We have grave concerns that this legislation does not protect people in the United States from warrantless surveillance, especially their online activity including web browsing and internet searches,” the pair said in a statement released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.