House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger today announced that committee marked up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act Reauthorization Act today. The committee voted unanimously, 17-0, to pass the bill out of the committee.
The FISA Amendments Act is a critically important foreign intelligence collection tool that was created with bipartisan support in 2008 and is scheduled to expire this year. The Obama Administration's Director of National Intelligence asked Congress to reauthorize this legislation, referring to it as "an extremely valuable authority in protecting our nation from terrorism and other national security threats." Specifically, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence stated that the FISA Amendments Act "continues to produce significant intelligence that is vital to protect the nation against international terrorism and other threats" and further stated that reauthorization of this legislation is "the top legislative priority of the Intelligence Community."
Discussing today's committee action, Chairman Rogers said, "The House Intelligence Committee has taken up important legislation to keep our country safe and passed this bill in a fully bipartisan manner, on a unanimous vote. The joint efforts that the Ranking Member and I committed ourselves to at the outset of this Congress continue to pay significant dividends and help ensure that we are able to keep America safe."
Similarly, Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger said, "It is the Intelligence Committee's responsibility to give our intelligence professionals the resources, authorities and capabilities they need to keep our country safe while ensuring proper oversight of the Intelligence Community and protecting civil liberties. The FISA Amendments Act is due to expire at the end of the year. I believe that we must reauthorize this critical piece of legislation. It allows our intelligence professionals to gather critical intelligence to disrupt terrorist plots, track developments in countries like Iran, Syria, Russia and China and protect our nation's networks from cyber attacks."
The unanimous passage of this legislation is the fifth major bipartisan piece of legislation passed by the House Intelligence Committee in the 112th Congress, along with three fiscal year funding bills covering Fiscal Years 2011, 2012, and 2013, and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which passed the House by a strong bipartisan margin and awaits consideration by the United States Senate.