McCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill

McCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill
© Bonnie Cash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPressure grows to remove Boebert from committees Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill News reporting in an age of rampant mendacity 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 PelosiDole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda House to vote on Uyghur bill amid diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics MORE (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money — Build Back Better takes a 'Byrd Bath' Schumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Hoyer says Dec. 15 is drop-dead deadline to hike debt ceiling MORE (D-Md.) for comments on McCarthy's request.

McCarthy's push to delay the bill comes after President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race 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. 

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 WydenSenate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill Democrats push tax credits to bolster clean energy Five reasons for concern about Democrats' drug price control plan 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 LofgrenLofgren: Many Jan. 6 panel witnesses are former Trump officials One congressional committee is rejecting partisanship to protect state votes Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — China's president to video in for climate confab MORE (D-Calif.) and Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonHouse Freedom Caucus elects Rep. Scott Perry as new chairman Congress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Watchdog: 7 members of Congress allegedly failed to disclose stock trades MORE (R-Ohio) after comments made by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) about its scope.

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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 DainesBill honoring 13 service members killed in Afghanistan heads to Biden's desk The Memo: Much-criticized Trump policy puts Biden in a vise The good, bad, and ugly of Tester's Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act 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.