(UnitedVoice.com) – The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is one of the most important bills lawmakers pass each year. The legislation has made it through Congress 62 years in a row without much of the political gamesmanship that happens when lawmakers try to pass other bills. This year is looking like it might be different.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently urged House and Senate leadership to take a firm stand against Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
Lawmakers have until the end of the year to reauthorize the controversial surveillance program outlined in the FISA Amendments Act. The law allows the government to conduct surveillance of foreign nationals located outside of the US. Authorities use the information to protect the US and its allies from terrorist attacks and other national security issues.
In recent years, the government has taken a lot of heat for how it conducts the program. The FBI has repeatedly swept Americans up in the surveillance program, raising red flags. In 2020 and 2021, the agency was accused of breaking its own rules while investigating the BLM and the January 6 riots.
Lawmakers are now demanding the program be dealt with separately from the rest of the NDAA.
Letter to Leadership
On November 29, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The lawmakers, led by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), informed leadership that they strongly oppose adding a short-term reauthorization of Section 702.
The lawmakers argued that attaching the reauthorization to the must-pass spending bill would be “an inexcusable violation of the public’s trust to quietly greenlight an authority that has been flagrantly abused.” The members of Congress stated there wasn’t a reason to temporarily reauthorize the surveillance program because there is a court order keeping it in place until April of next year.
Lofgren and Davidson, along with their colleagues, want the reauthorization act for the program to be a standalone bill that will be decided on its own merits. That way, lawmakers will be able to debate it and add amendments to it, if need be.
The lawmakers concluded by accusing the federal government of using Section 7 to spy on American protesters, presidential campaigns, members of Congress, journalists, and others.
Congressional leadership has not responded to the letter.
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