Washington, D.C. – Congressman Steve Pearce released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on S. 139, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Reauthorization Act:
"National security agencies play an integral role in thwarting domestic and foreign threats to our homeland. It is essential to provide these government agencies with the tools they need to keep us safe, however, this cannot come at the expense of the Constitution. We need common-sense protections that uphold the rights and liberties of American's, while safeguarding our freedoms from overbearing, unlawful government practices. I supported efforts to make simple changes to FISA that would not have limited the government's ability to collect information necessary to protect our nation from foreign threats. Passing the FISA reauthorization today without the addition of necessary safeguards and warrant requirements does not find the balance our nation needs and deserves."
In 1978, Congress enacted FISA to provide a statutory framework that governs how government agencies may gather foreign intelligence, obtain authorization to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches, utilized trace devices, and other activities. Following the attack on September 11, 2001, Congress put the USA PATRIOT Act in place to enhance investigation tools that government agencies can use to achieve their mission of thwarting foreign threats. This act and subsequent acts amend FISA to broaden the government's ability to obtain information about potential threats.
Rep. Pearce cosponsored an amendment called the USA Rights Act, which alters the FISA reauthorization bill to limit the scope of information that the government can collect on U.S. citizens without a warrant. This amendment ensures any information collected is in specific regards to a surveillance target. It continues to allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to use information collected under Section 702 as it relates to foreign threats, while prohibiting warrantless backdoor searches on American's communications.