Pressure turns to House leaders to advance bill requiring warrant for emails

Calls grew on Wednesday for House leadership to take up a popular bill that requires the government to obtain a warrant for customer emails, no matter how old they are. 

Committee passage of the Email Privacy Act unleashed a torrent of calls from congressmen, senators and outside advocates for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhy the rush to condemn a carbon tax? House votes to go to conference on farm bill House backs resolution expressing support for ICE MORE (R-Wis.) and his team to move the bill to the floor. 

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"Mr. Speaker, now’s the time to take up this bill on the House floor and send it to the president’s desk for his signature," said Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderHouse bill offers B for Trump's border wall, security Lots of love: Charity tennis match features lawmakers teaming up across the aisle Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race MORE (R-Kan.), one of the bill's authors.  

The bill, backed by 314 cosponsors, would close off a loophole in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. They want to remove a provision from the books that allows the government and law enforcement to force technology companies to hand over a customers' emails with a subpoena, rather than a warrant, if those emails are more than 180 days old. 

The bill currently has the most cosponsors of any other legislation in the House. 

The House Judiciary Committee's vote is the first movement on the bill in either chamber for years. The sponsors of similar legislation in the Senate — Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Budget chairs press appropriators on veterans spending Kavanaugh paper chase heats up MORE (D-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE MORE (R-Utah) — hinted that passage in the House could help the Senate act. 

"We urge the full House to pass this bill soon so the Senate can do the same," they wrote. "The American people deserve a law that matches today’s digital age.”

Outside groups joked that Ryan's popularity could see a boost from moving the widely supported bill. However, Ryan's office noted that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sets the floor schedule. 

"Speaker Ryan could be the most popular man in Congress by bringing this measure to the House floor quickly so lawmakers can have an opportunity to vote on these necessary reforms," the Information Technology Industry Council said. 

The group counts some of the largest technology companies in the industry as members, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Yahoo and others. 

Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlattee (R-Va.), who was accused of dragging his feet to get the bill to a markup, said he assumed leadership would move the bill soon. 

Many supporters have said the bill could be an easy candidate for a suspension vote — a procedure that requires a high-threshold of support but allows the bill to move fairly quickly. 

"I would think soon, but we don't have a date yet," Goodlatte said of a floor vote.