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 RyanElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans GOP super PAC pushes back on report it skipped ad buys for California's Rohrabacher, Walters MORE (R-Wis.) and his team to move the bill to the floor. 


"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 YoderPaul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans Kavanaugh becomes new flashpoint in midterms defined by anger Election Countdown: Big fundraising numbers in fight for Senate | Haley resigns in surprise move | Says she will back Trump in 2020 | Sanders hitting midterm trail | Collins becomes top Dem target | Takeaways from Indiana Senate debate 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 LeahyOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist's disappearance Justice Kavanaugh will be impartial, not political like his opponents MORE (D-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line 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.