McCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill

McCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill
© Bonnie Cash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus MORE (R-Calif.) on Wednesday asked Democratic leadership to hold off on a vote on the reauthorization of three expired surveillance programs.

"I've asked the Democrats to hold this bill up for two different reasons," the California lawmaker said in an appearance on "Fox & Friends."

McCarthy said that the bill should be held over concerns about proxy voting and allegations that former President Obama used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on American politicians.

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The push from the Republican leader to hold off on the bill leaves little time for Democratic leadership to make a decision; the surveillance bill is set to be on the House floor later in the day.

The Hill has reached out to spokespeople for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMilitary bases should not be renamed, we must move forward in the spirit of reconciliation Pelosi: Trump 'himself is a hoax' Women must continue to persist to rise as political leaders of America MORE (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse to vote on removing bust of Supreme Court justice who wrote Dred Scott ruling Black Caucus unveils next steps to combat racism Democrats expect Russian bounties to be addressed in defense bill MORE (D-Md.) for comments on McCarthy's request.

McCarthy's push to delay the bill comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE on Tuesday broke his silence on the legislation, urging House Republicans to vote against 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 tweeted.

Trump has alleged that FISA was abused by the FBI to improperly surveil members of his 2016 campaign and undermine his White House bid. 

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A Justice Department inspector general investigation completed last year faulted the FBI for errors and omissions in surveillance applications used to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the election, but said it did not find evidence of political bias.

McCarthy's request adds to the already precarious situation of the surveillance bill, with support on the left appearing to fracture.

The Senate approved legislation in a bipartisan vote earlier this month reauthorizing three expired surveillance programs under the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 intelligence reform law.

House leaders agreed earlier this week to consider an amendment to that legislation aimed at tightening the limits on law enforcement's ability to access Americans’ web browsing history after a similar provision was defeated by just one vote in the Senate.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse | Trump administration awards tech group contract to build 'virtual' wall | Advocacy groups urge Congress to ban facial recognition technologies Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic proposal to extend 0 unemployment checks MORE (D-Ore.), however, one of the co-sponsors of the failed Senate provision, on Tuesday evening pulled his support from the amendment brought by Reps. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenFEC commissioner resigns, leaving agency without a quorum again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change DOJ whistleblower: California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' MORE (D-Calif.) and Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonGOP-Trump fractures on masks open up House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA MORE (R-Ohio) after comments made by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) about its scope.

In a statement backing the amendment to reporters, Schiff seemed to suggest that the measure would allow room for law enforcement to continue the collection of Americans' records as long as they are relevant to a foreign intelligence investigation.

Wyden then pulled his support from the amendment and urged House members to vote down the whole package.

“The House Intelligence Committee chairman’s assertion that the Lofgren-Davidson amendment does not fully protect Americans from warrantless collection flatly contradicts the intent of Wyden-Daines, and my understanding of the amendment agreed to earlier today," the Oregon lawmaker said in a statement, referencing Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesPolitical establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme Lincoln Project releases new pro-Biden ad in swing states The Hill's Campaign Report: Progressives feel momentum after primary night MORE (R-Mont.).

Demand for Progress, a key progressive internet rights group that pushed for a House amendment, on Wednesday morning also urged lawmakers to oppose the bill.

"It seems increasingly likely that Section 215 is being used in contradiction to lawmakers' and the public's understanding of the law, and that the FBI may be misusing this authority to conduct dragnet surveillance of the internet activity of people in the United States," Sean Vitka, the group's senior policy counsel, said in a statement.