GOP Lawmaker: ‘Extremely Dangerous’ To Allow FISA To Expire

Republican lawmakers have been divided this week on the issue of reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, particularly regarding its provision for warrantless searches that critics say has been used to target American citizens.

A group of 19 House Republicans banded together on Wednesday to stall the bill in hopes of securing an amendment that would include safeguards against such misuse, though House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) vowed to bring the legislation, which President Joe Biden indicated he supported, back for another vote.

The strategy employed by the group of GOP lawmakers who voted against the preliminary step in advancing the FISA reauthorization bill attracted support from a number of prominent conservatives while evoking the ire of many of their fellow House Republicans.

For his part, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Wednesday to advocate in no uncertain terms for the reauthorization of the act. He echoed the concerns voiced by FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding the potential homeland security threat posed by allowing the surveillance provisions to expire.

“I 100% agree with Director Wray,” McCaul told host Wolf Blitzer. “In my prior life, I was a federal prosecutor after 9/11 on counterterrorism. I worked with the FBI on FISA warrants.

We stopped a lot of bad things from happening. If we do not reauthorize FISA tomorrow and we go dark it will put American people in jeopardy and put them at risk at a time when the world is actually becoming more and more dangerous whether there will be Hamas out of the Middle East or Iran or the jihadists in Afghanistan.”

The Texas Republican went on to warn that now is “the wrong time to play politics with this,” prompting Blitzer to ask him whether he was willing to accept some of the provisions recommended by “holdouts” within his own party.

McCaul reiterated his opposition to allowing FISA to expire, warning that it would be “extremely dangerous to let that happen.”

Of course, many others in the Republican Party believe the potential security benefits of FISA as currently written are not worth the risk of American citizens being spied on without a warrant.

The procedural vote to advance the reauthorization bill finally succeeded on Friday morning.