House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Tim Cook called Pelosi to say tech antitrust bills were rushed MORE (D-Calif.) is canceling a vote on a bill to reauthorize three intelligence programs, marking the second day in a row that the legislation has been punted.

"At the request of the Speaker of the House, I am withdrawing consideration of the FISA Act," House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats fear they are running out of time on Biden agenda Tech industry pushes for delay in antitrust legislation Biden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' MORE (D-Md.) said in a statement.

He also appeared to acknowledge that the bill would not have enough support to pass, noting that Republicans who previously supported it were now expected to oppose it.


"The two-thirds of the Republican Party that voted for the bill in March have indicated they are going to vote against it now. I am told they are doing so at the request of the president. I believe this to be against the security interest of the United States and the safety of the American people," he said.

Hours earlier, Hoyer's office initially listed the bill as expected to get a vote on Thursday, telling members “that a vote on passage of FISA Reauthorization is expected to occur today.” 

It is the second time in less than 24 hours that House Democratic leadership scrapped a planned vote on the bill, which reauthorizes three lapsed provisions of the USA Freedom Act and a 2015 surveillance law and makes some changes to the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. 

Democrats had initially been expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday, but Hoyer’s office announced late Wednesday night that they had pulled the bill amid growing opposition from Republicans and progressive defections. 

In a "Dear Colleague" letter on Thursday, Pelosi indicated that the House would try to negotiate a deal with the Senate on a final bill.

“It will be our intention to go to conference in order to ensure that all of the views of all Members of our Caucus are represented in the final product,” she wrote.


The decision to pull the bill is a U-turn from only Tuesday, when it appeared to be well on its way to approval before President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE came out in opposition and progressives pulled their support.

Trump on Tuesday night urged Republicans to vote against the bill, citing alleged abuses of surveillance power by the Obama administration to spy on his 2016 presidential campaign.

He then doubled down on the criticism Wednesday, pledging to veto the bill if it was passed.

House Republican leaders, who had backed the bill in March, on Wednesday also stepped up their opposition.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — A new final frontier: Washing dirty laundry in space White House uses Trump's words praising China to slam McCarthy's Biden criticism MORE (R-Calif.) leveled criticism at FISA during a morning appearance on Fox News.

“We just formally announced a whip against it, because No. 1, it's not going to become law. No. 2, there are still so many questions that need to be answered about real abuses that happened in the FISA system,” House Republican Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn The Money: Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall | Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall Hillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals MORE (La.) said at a press conference.

The House passed an initial version of the bill in March in a 278-136 vote after Attorney General William BarrBill BarrEnergized Trump probes pose problems for Biden Pavlich: Biden can't ignore defund the police contributions to violent crime spike Progressives slam Garland for DOJ stances on Trump-era cases MORE and House leadership cut a deal that was backed by Trump allies, including Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup White House uses Trump's words praising China to slam McCarthy's Biden criticism Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall MORE (R-Ohio).

But the Senate changed the bill, requiring a second vote in the House, during its debate earlier this month by adding an amendment from Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeDemocrats block GOP bill to lift mask mandate on public transportation Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (R-Utah) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBipartisan group of 21 lawmakers push Biden to ban most landmines Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE (D-Vt.) that would let outside counsel review some FISA surveillance requests. Though the bill passed the Senate 80-16, the Justice Department signaled that it now opposed the legislation.

“The Senate ... made significant changes that the Department opposed because they would unacceptably impair our ability to pursue terrorists and spies,” said Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.

Pelosi took a swipe at the Justice Department on Thursday, writing in the “Dear Colleague” letter that “the administration—particularly some in the Justice Department—would like nothing better than to not have a bill.”

But Pelosi also faced growing opposition from progressives that made it unlikely she could pass the bill with only Democratic support. An initial version of the bill that passed in March garnered only 152 Democratic votes, well short of what she would need to overcome the Republican opposition in the wake of Trump’s veto threat.

An amendment that was initially modeled after one offered by Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHeat wave sparks historically unseasonable wildfires in West Biogen opens door to adjusting price of Alzheimer's drug amid outcry Overnight Health Care: White House acknowledges it will fall short of July 4 vaccine goal | Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates | Senate Finance leader releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices MORE (D-Ore.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE (R-Mont.) to require a warrant before law enforcement could access web browsing history was first narrowed then dropped from consideration entirely.


The provision from Reps. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup Pelosi floats Democrat-led investigation of Jan. 6 as commission alternative Democrats plot next move after GOP sinks Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Calif.) and Warren DavidsonWarren Earl Davidson21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Ohio) only offered the protection to U.S. persons and ultimately lost the support of Wyden after Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocratic lawmakers not initially targeted in Trump DOJ leak probe: report Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Schiff calls Iranian presidential election 'predetermined' MORE (D-Calif.) suggested it left leeway for Americans’ data to be collected during foreign intelligence investigations.

Pelosi said during a press conference Wednesday that leadership dropped the amendment because the Senate version could get the most votes.

Despite concerns with the amendment from progressives, stripping it entirely cost their support for the underlying bill.

Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalEnergized Trump probes pose problems for Biden Democrats fear they are running out of time on Biden agenda Garland: Review of Trump-era politicization should fall to DOJ watchdog MORE (D-Wash.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Memo: The pre-Trump 'normal' is gone for good Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (D-Wis.), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), came out in opposition of the reauthorization shortly after the amendment was dropped. CPC leadership had voiced opposition to the reauthorization bill in March, but roughly two dozen members of the caucus voted for it at the time.

“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 lawmakers said in a statement.

“Despite some positive reforms, the legislation is far too narrow in scope and would still leave the public vulnerable to invasive online spying and data collection.”


Daniel Schuman, the policy director for Demand Progress, said Democratic leadership hadn't "earned" enough votes from within their own caucus to pass the bill, dismissing GOP defections.

"Democratic leadership is blaming Republicans on FISA, but Speaker Pelosi blocked pro civil-liberties amendments and stymied reforms over the last year, including yesterday. That's why she doesn't have the votes — she hasn't earned them," he said. "This may surprise some, but Pelosi is a surveillance hawk and has long sacrificed civil liberties on the altar of national security.”

Updated at 11:35 a.m.