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