Intelligence

FISA Fight Marks Win for Intelligence Committee Over Judiciary

House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff, left and Chairman Devin Nunes largely got their way in the FISA fight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Jan. 19 signing of legislation to reauthorize a government surveillance authority that has, in some cases, given intelligence and law enforcement agents access to Americans’ correspondence without a warrant, was a victory for security hawks over civil libertarians.

It also marked a win for the House Intelligence Committee over its counterpart, House Judiciary, and a shift in the balance of power on government surveillance from three years ago.

Podcast: Surveillance Is Back
CQ on Congress, Episode 87

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 10: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., arrives for a vote in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress disregarded concerns about government surveillance of Americans and on Jan. 18 reauthorized a controversial anti-terrorism law. CQ cybersecurity editor Patrick Pexton explains how the security hawks beat the civil libertarians — energized by the 2013 revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

 

How House Republicans Got to ‘Yes’ on Funding the Government
Leaders navigated twists and turns in negotiations with the Freedom Caucus

Speaker Paul D. Ryan leaves his office in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

All eyes will be on the Senate on Friday as lawmakers there race against the clock to avert a government shutdown. But over in the House, Republicans are happy they were able to pass a four-week stopgap measure without turning to the Democrats for help.

It wasn’t an easy task for House GOP leaders to cobble up the 216 votes within their conference needed to pass a continuing resolution. (The bill ended up passing Thursday, 230-197.) Yet throughout the negotiations, leadership remained confident its members would get there, given the urgency of the deadline and the political consequences if they failed to meet it.

Senators Threaten Legislation Over Social Media Firms' Content

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune said he was more focused on oversight than legislation for social media companies and their content. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Big social media companies made a case against new legislative mandates by emphasizing their voluntary efforts to root out terrorism-related material and other objectionable content on their sites during a Senate hearing Wednesday.

But senators from both parties warned representatives of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter of legislative action even as Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said he was focused on oversight rather than legislation, which could further open the companies to lawsuits. The committee approved a bill that would allow online businesses to be sued and prosecuted for sex trafficking content, but Thune indicated he wasn’t ready to do the same over terrorism content.

House Bill Would Create More Oversight on Efforts to Disclose Cyber Vulnerabilities
Department of Homeland Security would be required to file annual report

A bill introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, would expand oversight over how federal authorities work with the private sector to disclose cyber vulnerabilities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bill to expand congressional oversight over how the Department of Homeland Security works with the private sector to disclose cyber vulnerabilities is now before the Senate after it passed the House by voice vote last week.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, would require DHS to submit an annual report to Congress describing the process the federal government uses to disclose cybersecurity flaws it discovers to the private sector and other affected organizations. The bill would include information about how DHS is working with other federal agencies and managers of private cyber infrastructure to mitigate susceptibility to cyberattacks.

Schiff Wants Fusion GPS Transcript Released
Ranking House Intel member says Republicans have provided selective leaks of testimony

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says Republicans have provided selective leaks of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff is calling on Republican chairman Devin Nunes to release the transcript from the committee’s interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.

Schiff’s office said in a statement to Business Insider said he supported doing so because the role of Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm, has been mischaracterized after selective leaks of Simpson’s testimony.

Opinion: Civil Liberties and Odd-Duck Congressional Coalitions
FISA debate a throwback to more bipartisan times

While the FISA bill amendment by Reps. Zoe Lofgren of California and Justin Amash of Michigan failed, it attracted bipartisan support from 58 Republicans and 125 Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

For two hours last Thursday, the House held a debate that harked back to the heyday of Sonny and Cher and Butch and the Sundance Kid. Instead of lockstep polarization on Capitol Hill, throwback Thursday marked a brief return to the era when legislative coalitions crossed party lines.

The topic before the House was the intersection of civil liberties and national security — about the only issue that can still upend standard red-and-blue divisions.

Thursday's Hangout With Steven Mnuchin and Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Global elitism, FISA, a possible stock market dive pepper White House day

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly waits to speak in October as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a press briefing. Kelly is leading White House efforts to strike an immigration deal. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Treasury secretary says the Davos gathering of global elites isn’t a hangout for global elites. A press secretary says tweets that seemed to contradict each other didn’t contradict each other. A president predicts a stock market dive if he doesn’t get his way. In other words: Thursday at the White House.

Among the business-as-usual moments were White House officials blaming Democrats for delays on immigration and government-funding measures, even while the White House chief of staff was trying to close the deal, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announcing that taxpayers should see bigger paychecks next month — as long as new withholding tables the IRS is circulating work like they are designed to. 

With House Passage of FISA Measure, Action Moves to Senate
GOP leaders in chamber move to restrict amendments to reauthorization

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is part of a bipartisan group that has problems with the FISA reauthorization measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday approved 256-164 a bill to reauthorize provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for another six years, putting the measure in the Senate’s hands.

The bill, backed by the Trump administration and all the U.S. intelligence agencies, would preserve the FBI and the intelligence agencies’ ability to search a surveillance database for information on Americans with minimal warrant requirements.

House Republicans Discuss FISA — Spending, Not So Much
Fiscal deal is primarily at the leadership level-BR

Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., said the GOP conference focused on the FISA legislation, not spending issues.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 3:15 p.m. | House Republicans spent their Thursday morning planning conference discussing a surveillance measure that would be on the floor later the same day instead of a plan to fund the government beyond Jan. 19.

The week-end GOP conference meeting is typically reserved for legislative issues the House will tackle in weeks ahead. Conferences held the morning after fly-in day are when House Republicans normally discuss measures on the floor that week.