The House of Representatives postponed a vote on major national security legislation to renew a set of expired domestic surveillance powers after passage appeared uncertain because of a veto threat by President Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal reports. The delay cast further doubt over the fate of key parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which were initially adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and expired more than two months ago. The bill also faced opposition from some progressive Democrats. Congress has been debating FISA changes for months. Democrats and some Republicans have leveraged the lapse of spying tools to push for broader changes to how the U.S. government gathers intelligence on Americans.
Until this week, the House had been widely expected to approve the expired provisions, which lapsed on March 15, with changes intended to bolster privacy and transparency protections. Late Tuesday, Trump tweeted his opposition to the measure, prompting Republican leadership to put together an effort to sink it. “If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history,” the president wrote on Twitter. “The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!” The president has said the intelligence community improperly used the law to surveil his presidential campaign for political reasons, an assertion disputed by Obama administration officials. FISA has become fraught with politics during the Trump presidency. A coalition of progressive Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans have long held doubts about whether the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are afforded too much power to use the FISA process to violate civil liberties protections of unsuspecting Americans.