Jerry Nadler: House Judiciary chairman rejects a clean extension on expiring FISA provisions

Asked by CNN if he would support legislation that would simply renew any or all of the three expiring Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, powers ahead of March 15, when they’re set to lapse, Nadler said “no.”

“I wouldn’t,” he said when asked if he’d back a straight extension.

The the three expiring authorities have become caught amid a Republican intraparty fight over how and when the FBI’s surveillance authorities should be reformed in the wake of cutting criticism from the Justice Department’s inspector general over the bureau’s use of FISA in the Russia investigation. The gulf between Nadler, a Democrat, and Republicans in the Senate could put the renewal of the three authorities, which were not the ones used by the FBI on Carter Page in the Russia investigation, in even deeper jeopardy.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review its own legislation Wednesday afternoon that would extend the authorization of some of the expiring provisions while also implementing new reforms, including by expanding the role of an outside attorney to challenge the government’s claims in certain cases.

The legislation, put forward by Democrats, was crafted in consultation with the Justice Department and Republicans, but the minority leader of the committee, Rep. Doug Collins, said Tuesday that the proposal failed to “protect American citizens — including future presidents and presidential campaigns — from unlawful spying.”
Collins and a number of House Republicans have clamored for even more sweeping changes to the surveillance program after the DOJ inspector general reported in December that the FBI had made a series of errors as they sought to wiretap Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

The Republican fracture on the issue appears to have reached the White House, where influential factions have been pushing the divergent strategies.

Attorney General William Barr was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to lobby Senate Republicans on his own path forward on the surveillance laws. In a closed door meeting, Barr urged senators to extend the expiring provisions while he takes steps within the Justice Department to begin reforming elements of the law administratively, according to several senators and a senior Justice Department official.

Barr also indicated that Congress could work on broader reforms to be enacted at a later time, and said he supported the effort by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham to hold hearings on the issue in future weeks, the senators said.

Barr told the lawmakers that his approach had the support of the National Security Council, the intelligence community and the FBI, although he acknowledged that there are differing opinions within the White House, including at the Domestic Policy Council, the DOJ official said.


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