SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. House passed a bipartisan bill Wednesday to reform surveillance laws that includes many changes Utah Rep. Chris Stewart proposed in his own legislation last year.
But Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, intends to do everything he can to see it doesn’t pass the Senate and has urged President Donald Trump to veto the House measure if it does.
Congress is trying push through changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act before some of its provisions expire Sunday. Lee and Stewart are among lawmakers who say federal agencies have abused the FISA program designed to investigate foreign terrorists.
The bill includes new privacy protections and changes to the FISA court system to address misconduct over surveillance warrants. It passed the House 278-136, with all four Utah congressman voting in favor.
“FISA is a critical part of our national security and I am proud to have authored the bill that is the basis for so many of these significant and necessary reforms,” said Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
A December Department of Justice report outlined more than a dozen failures of the FBI’s use of the law to intercept the communications of Trump’s campaign supporters. It identified errors or omissions in the applications to spy on Trump campaign official Carter Page.
Stewart, R-Utah, described the “shocking abuses of power” in his House floor speech on Wednesday and said the bill would stop them from happening again.
“To those who oppose this bill, if you vote against this bill, you keep the status quo. FISA remains in place. The ability to abuse FISA doesn’t change. Vote yes on this bill or accept future abuse,” he said.
Lee said the House bill doesn’t fix what’s wrong with FISA and wouldn’t have stopped spying on Trump. He and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., are pushing for several changes not included in the legislation.
“I’m going to use every option at my disposal to stop the House bill and to offer up amendments,” Lee said, according to Politico. “I have given no one any reason to believe that I would be unwilling to let the clock run out.”
Lee and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced their own legislation this week for a three-month extension of the law coupled with reform.