- The Washington Times
Monday, March 9, 2020

A bill to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not among the five pieces of legislation the House Judiciary Committee is set to debate later this week, according to a schedule posted Monday afternoon.

With three legislation days left to reauthorize key surveillance powers used by the FBI and Justice Department, it appears efforts to reform FISA remain up in the air.

Instead, the panel will discuss bills to crack down on domestic terrorism; strengthen opposition to female genital mutilation; boost the Justice Department’s response to the crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans, and establish residency status for two foreign nationals.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, last month canceled a scheduled markup of a FISA reform bill as Democrats remain deeply divided on the legislation. Progressives who are hawkish on civil liberties want more reforms than the mild changes proposed by Mr. Nadler.

Those Democrats have found unlikely support from committee Republicans, who also support major forms to FISA. Republicans are seeking a complete overhaul of FISA following revelations of FBI abuses during the Trump-Russia collusion probe.

House leaders said last week they are continuing discussions about proposed FISA reform are ongoing.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said staffers worked through the weekend on FISA.

“They both believe we are significantly closer. That doesn’t mean it’s done. But closer.”

Hoyer wouldn’t say if that meant a deal on reforms or a stop-gap.

“I’m hopeful that’s substantive, but if not then we’re going have to do a stopgap. We don’t want [FISA] to lapse.”

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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