House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced that on Wednesday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee will markup the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361), legislation introduced by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) to reform our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
At the markup, an amendment in the nature of a substitute will be offered by Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner on behalf of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.). This bipartisan substitute amendment protects Americans’ civil liberties while maintaining a workable framework for intelligence officials to keep us safe from foreign enemies who wish us harm. Among its many provisions, the substitute amendment prohibits bulk collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (Section 501 of FISA), prohibits bulk collection under the FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace statute (Section 402 of FISA) and National Security Letter statutes, authorizes the government to acquire telephone records stored by telephone providers but only with prior approval from the FISA Court on a case-by-case basis, increases privacy protections at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and clarifies privacy protections for Americans under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner, Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Scott, Congressman Nadler, and Congressman Forbes issued the statement below in anticipation of Wednesday’s markup.
“As the Committee of primary jurisdiction, we have conducted robust oversight of the intelligence-gathering programs operated under FISA and have come to the conclusion that these programs are in need of reform to protect our privacy, including prohibiting bulk collection under Section 215. Over the past several months, we have worked together across party lines and with the Administration and have reached a bipartisan solution that includes real protections for Americans’ civil liberties, robust oversight, and additional transparency, while preserving our ability to protect America’s national security. We look forward to taking up this legislation on Wednesday and continuing to work with House leaders to reform these programs.”
Background: Over the past year, the House Judiciary Committee has conducted aggressive oversight of our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under FISA. In July 2013, the Committee held a public hearing to examine the statutory authorities that govern certain surveillance programs operated under FISA, in which the Committee heard from officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and from civil liberties groups. In September 2013, the Committee also held a classified hearing where members of the House Judiciary Committee were afforded the opportunity to further probe government officials from the DOJ, the ODNI, the NSA, and the fbi about our nation’s surveillance programs. And in February 2014, the Committee held a comprehensive hearing to examine the various recommendations to reform or end these programs made by President Obama, the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.