A small group of House GOP privacy hawks have blocked the House of Representatives from advancing a Speaker Mike Johnson-backed bill to renew a controversial federal government surveillance tool known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

It comes hours after former President Trump posted on Truth Social, “KILL FISA, IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME AND MANY OTHERS.”

The Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, a compromise bill between the House Judiciary Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is aimed at curbing instances of abuse reported against Trump and others by instituting safeguards on who can access Section 702-collected data, particularly if it involves a U.S. citizen. It also would make it a crime to use backdoor loopholes to improperly access Americans’ data.

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But conservative critics of Section 702 have argued the bill does not go far enough to safeguard Americans’ data. 

The fight has put Johnson in a difficult spot between the House Judiciary Committee and its allies, and the U.S. intelligence community and national security hawks in Congress. The former have cast Section 702 as a tool of exploitation and privacy infringement, while the latter have maintained it’s a narrowly-focused tool critical to preventing terror attacks.

Section 702 is a provision that allows the federal government to conduct warrantless surveillance of a foreign national outside the U.S. if they’re suspected of ties to terrorism — even if the person on the other end of the communications is an American citizen.

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House Speaker Mike Johnson

The House Judiciary Committee backed an amendment that would force U.S. officials to seek a warrant before querying communications made by an American, which national security-minded Republicans have largely opposed.

One GOP lawmaker compared the amendment’s effects to forcing a police officer to seek a warrant before querying a license plate in their database. 

They explained that if a suspected terrorist overseas is communicating with a U.S. citizen at home, a Section 702 search would already pick up their specific communications with that U.S. citizen. The amendment would force authorities to seek a warrant before seeing the contents of that communication, which critics have warned could waste valuable time in the event of a serious threat.

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Former President Donald Trump

Multiple sources told Fox News Digital that Johnson spoke out against the amendment during a closed-door meeting with fellow House Republicans on Wednesday – spurring anger from GOP hardliners.

 

“Unfortunately, I think the speaker is coming forward, reversing his personal position 180 degrees and weighing in on the Intel side. He’s, unfortunately, I think, surrendered on that notion of neutrality,” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., told reporters.

As it stands, FISA Section 702 will expire on April 19 if Congress does not act.

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