The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that will prevent future “spying” abuses that were seen and exposed during the Trump-Russia investigation.
The bipartisan legislation will reauthorize FBI crime-fighting tools that were set to expire Sunday and to reform the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court process that was used to allow the Obama-led FBI to spy on the Trump campaign.
USA Freedom Reauthorization Act passed by a 278-136 vote and brought together Trump’s strongest supporters — such as Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio — and some of his fiercest critics — like Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif. — who wanted improvements to protect Americans’ privacy and safeguard against surveillance abuses.
Nadler said the bill contains “significant reform” and “decisive steps in the right direction.”
Jordan also called the bill “an improvement” over the status quo.
“The legislation begins to address the problems that we saw with the FBI’s illegal surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page,” Jordan said.
The bill includes enhanced congressional oversight of the FISA process, penalties for those who abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) process for political purposes, and the requirement to have transcripts of court proceedings.
“This legislation places much-needed safeguards to prevent another Carter Page-type scandal from happening again,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
Fox News reports:
At issue were three surveillance provisions that are set to expire Sunday, including one that permits the FBI to obtain our orders to collect business records on subjects in national security investigations. Another, known as the “roving wiretap” provision, permits surveillance on subjects even after they’ve changed phones, and to monitor subjects who don’t have ties to international terrorist organizations.
The bill seeks to rein in a controversial portion of the surveillance powers, known as Section 215, which gives the government broad powers to demand “business records” from companies in the name of national security investigations. In an effort to better protect privacy, the legislation would prohibit using Section 215 to acquire information that would otherwise require a warrant and would ban obtaining GPS and cell site locations, Nadler said.
The National Security Agency (NSA) previously used Section 215 to collect bulk phone data records, which was highly controversial. In recent years, the bulk metadata collection was outlawed and a narrowly tailored program was allowed, but now that program would be officially ended under the legislation.
The new legislation will also require the attorney general to personally sign off on surveilling government officials.
Attorney General Bill Barr on Wednesday said he supported the passage of the FISA bill, saying it “will protect against abuse and misuse in the future.”
“I have reviewed the House FISA Bill and support its passage,” Barr said in a statement Wednesday. “The bill contains an array of new requirements and compliance provisions that will protect against abuse and misuse in the future while ensuring that this critical tool is available when appropriate to protect the safety of the American people.”
The legislation now heads to the GOP-controlled Senate. It’s unclear if it will pass in the upper chamber, but there’s a good chance that it will.