Speaker Johnson Angers Republicans With Plan to Extend FISA Via Defense Bill


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

House Speaker Mike Johnson handily won the support of his caucus in late October after weeks of turmoil following the historic ouster of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who angered the party’s most conservative faction over his inability to deliver on certain promises.

Now, it seems, Johnson (R-La.) could be in danger of losing his seat as well.

Johnson had planned to tuck a short-term extension of a powerful federal government surveillance tool into the annual must-pass defense spending bill, but, the Washington Examiner noted on Friday, “members of the House Freedom Caucus announced their opposition to” the move.

“After changing his stance and reversing course multiple times in the past week on how he plans to ensure section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not expire at the end of the year, Johnson settled on including a clean short-term extension of the tool until April 19, 2024, in the National Defense Authorization Act, something he said he would not do just days prior,” the report continued.

But the centrist Republicans and the party’s most conservative members oppose that, the Examiner reported.


“Any reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must be considered only with significant reforms and as a standalone measure,” Freedom Caucus members said in a statement. “Under no circumstances should an extension be attached to ‘must pass’ legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“The Members of the House Freedom Caucus are prepared to use all available leverage to change the status quo,” the statement went on. “We will not simply vote ‘no’ on bad legislation and go home for Christmas.”

Although dissenting opinions had been voiced, the statement establishes a definitive policy position against appending a short-term extension of the spy tool to the NDAA. This stance has garnered public opposition to the annual defense bill from both sides of the aisle and across the ideological spectrum within both parties, the Examiner noted.

“The FISA extension is not great,” one centrist Republican, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) said. “I don’t think it should be in the NDAA.”


As per a senior GOP aide, the probable strategy involves House leadership presenting the NDAA for a vote under suspension of the rule, necessitating a two-thirds majority vote for passage. Despite the strong opposition, there is no assurance that the required votes will be secured. However, the aide expressed confidence that party leaders believe they can garner the necessary support, the Examiner noted.

“That is sure to anger some hard-line conservatives such as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who opposes the NDAA and slammed Johnson and House Republican leadership for bringing the most recent continuing resolution up under suspension of the rules to avoid a possible rule failing on the floor,” the outlet said.

Johnson faced a pressing deadline on another must-pass measure — to extend funding of the federal government — when he was elected Speaker in late October, telling a news outlet getting that bill done quickly was top on his list of things to do.

“Our first priority is to get the government funded,” Johnson told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “Our team is ready and working like a well-oiled machine.”


Newsmax noted further that Johnson said an energy and water appropriations measure was passed last week, just a day after he took the gavel, “and we’re moving as quickly as possible and trying to beat the deadline” of Nov. 17 when the current funding bill runs out.

However, he said, if the deadline nears and “we’re unable to finish [as] it is detailed work, and it takes some time, we’ll look at another stopgap measure.”

He added, “If we run out of time on the calendar, we may need a little bit more to complete it.”

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