Gaetz Snipes Speaker Johnson in FISA Vote Statement

Gaetz Snipes Speaker Johnson in FISA Vote Statement

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
April 11, 2024

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's (FISA) Section 702 was prevented from being reauthorized yesterday. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of the 19 Republicans who voted in favor of killing the amendment, targeted Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) in a statement issued after the vote, of whom he said, "If [he] is unwilling to fix FISA Section 702, we are left wondering what he is indeed willing to fix. We didn't fix the budget or the border."

Rep. Gaetz's statement began by referencing the discovery of over 278,000 abuses of FISA authorities by FBI employees discovered in July during a hearing with Director Christopher Wray, saying that despite the clear danger this poses, "there has yet to be any consequences for this illegal activity by our government."

Additionally, Rep. Gaetz noted, "The reauthorization lacks essential reforms to protect Americans' Fourth Amendment rights, such as requiring the FBI to obtain a warrant before searching Americans’ data and a prohibition on the government purchasing Americans’ data from third-party data brokers."

The Florida Congressman mentions voting in favor of a reformed version of the bill protecting Americans' privacy rights in December, yet "Speaker Johnson has sided against holding a House vote on that bill and is instead trying to rush legislation drafted in a way that could expand authorities for the FBI to violate Americans’ right to privacy."

Moreover, as noted by The Verge, FISA reform debates became so heated that Speaker Johnson withdrew the reformed FISA bill in February, but the version killed yesterday lacked these reforms.

Gaetz did not hold back in the rest of his statement, saying, "If Speaker Johnson is unwilling to fix FISA Section 702, we are left wondering what he is indeed willing to fix. We didn't fix the budget or the border. Now, the very authorities that we saw weaponized against President Trump and the American people are poised to get enhancements under this reauthorization, rather than any of the reforms that are so desperately needed."

In late March, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) issued a non-privileged motion to oust Johnson from the Speakership as a warning, although Gaetz did not express willingness to vote in favor so soon after the replacement of Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

But might Gaetz's statement after the FISA vote be a veiled warning to Johnson?

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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