Speaker Mike Johnson
Speaker Mike Johnson. Image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Section 702 surveillance powers legislation hits another roadblock in House

House Republican leaders on Wednesday failed to overcome bipartisan opposition to proceeding with debate on the renewal of expiring government surveillance powers.

Lawmakers voted 193-228 against bringing up a bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which will sunset on April 19. Nearly 20 GOP members voted against the rule for consideration of the measure.

It marked the fourth time since Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) received the gavel in October that such a vote has failed, a major embarrassment for GOP leadership.

The outcome is a reversal from Tuesday night, when the House Rules Committee easily advanced a rule that allowed for debate on a handful of amendments, including one that would require federal law enforcement to get a warrant before searching for information about Americans in the massive Section 702 database.

Still, members knew kickstarting debate was precarious — especially after former President Donald Trump urged House Republicans on Tuesday morning to kill the reauthorization bill. 

Congressional sources are unclear what happens next. 

There has been some discussion about possibly ramming the base bill — with or without amendments — through an expedited House process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage, these sources said.

There has also been talk about passing a “clean” extension of anywhere from 30 days to several months to give lawmakers more time to find a compromise.

House Republicans were planning a special conference meeting Wednesday afternoon on the path forward.

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak

is the senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. Prior to joining Recorded Future News in 2021, he spent more than five years at Politico, where he covered digital and national security developments across Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. He previously was a reporter at The Hill, National Journal Group and Inside Washington Publishers.