On Wednesday, the House voted on H.R. 5949, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Reauthorization Act. The bill reauthorizes a bipartisan compromise from 2008 to extend provisions providing procedures for targeting persons for surveillance while they are outside of the U.S. and does not modify or change the existing authorities provided under current law.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted for the measure.
"While this is not a perfect bill, it continues a bipartisan solution to our national security strategy that balances our foreign intelligence needs that support on-going counter-terrorism operations with protecting our citizens' rights to privacy. It is vital to note that these provisions do not apply to persons within the U.S. and restrict the government from intentionally targeting a U.S. citizen without a court order.
"President Obama has called on Congress to provide him this critical tool, which continues to provide significant information that we require to protect our nation and our citizens from harm. I believe we should continue to support the goals of the President's military and foreign policy," said Hanabusa.
In 2008, Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act in response to a 2005 report that the National Security Agency had been secretly monitoring the international telephone calls and emails of U.S. residents without warrants.
H.R. 5949 defers the authorization of surveillance to a special FISA court, made up of 11 federal court judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, for approval before beginning the intelligence collection. The bill also includes special minimization procedures to mitigate the risk of intrusion and requires regular reporting to Congress and other agencies on approved FISA court authorizations.
The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which has primary jurisdiction over the bill, unanimously approved the bill by a vote of 17 to 0.
The House passed H.R. 5949 by a vote of 301-118 and it now heads to the Senate.