The NDAA, or National Defense Authorization Act, is a landmark piece of legislation that Congress passes every year. Legislation has been passed by Congress for 62 consecutive years with minimal political maneuvering compared to prior bill attempts. It appears like things might be different this year.
In a recent letter to the leadership of both chambers, members from both parties asked them to reject the FISA Amendments Act of 2008’s Section 702.
Reauthorizing the contentious monitoring program specified in the FISA Amendments Act is a legislative priority that lawmakers must address before the year ends. The government is authorized by law to monitor foreign nationals who are outside of the United States. To prevent terrorist strikes and other threats to national security, the data is used by the authorities to safeguard the United States and its allies.
There has been a great deal of criticism about the government’s program management in recent years. Alarm bells have gone out because the FBI has ensnared Americans in the surveillance program on multiple occasions. While looking into the Black Lives Matter movement and the riots that occurred on January 6, 2020 and 2021, the agency was accused of violating its own regulations.
Now that lawmakers have taken issue with the program, they want it handled independently of the NDAA.
Letter to Leadership
On November 29, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The lawmakers, led by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), informed leadership that they strongly oppose adding a short-term reauthorization of Section 702.
The lawmakers argued that attaching the reauthorization to the must-pass spending bill would be “an inexcusable violation of the public’s trust to quietly greenlight an authority that has been flagrantly abused.” The members of Congress stated there wasn’t a reason to temporarily reauthorize the surveillance program because there is a court order keeping it in place until April of next year.
Along with their colleagues, Lofgren and Davidson want the program reauthorization act to be decided on its own merits as a standalone law. Lawmakers can then discuss it and, if necessary, make changes to it.
Last but not least, the congressmen said that the president’s campaign, congressional staff, media, and American demonstrators were all spied on by the federal government using Section 7.
The letter remains unanswered by the leadership of Congress.