Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Dueling Surveillance Overhaul Bills Set for Markups

Two House committees this week are slated to work on competing bills to overhaul the government’s ability to collect telephone metadata, reports CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta, who outlines a key difference between the two measures: how the government would need to go about obtaining approval to get the information.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark up a bill (HR 3361) on Wednesday and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will mark up another (HR 4291) Thursday. Both measures have bipartisan support; the Intelligence measure reportedly is closer to what the White House wants.

Margetta goes on to outline some details of a slimmed down substitute amendment expected to be taken up at the Judiciary markup Wednesday:

If Judiciary adopts the substitute amendment, both measures would set the standard for FISA court review of a surveillance application in line with the administration’s favored definition of ‘reasonable, articulable suspicion’ of whether a phone number could be connected to an intelligence or terrorism target.

John Eggerton at Broadcasting & Cable reports that the amendment will “likely change”  before Wednesday as work continues, citing a Sensenbrenner spokesperson.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman also reports on the upcoming Judiciary markup and bill:

Goodlatte’s decision comes despite pressure by the House Republican leadership, which preferred an alternative bill, written by the House intelligence committee leadership, that would permit the government to acquire Americans’ data without a specific prior judicial order for it.

Ackerman also notes:

But some civil libertarians and USA Freedom Act advocates are expressing concern about the compromises the Judiciary committee made to clear the decks for Wednesday’s vote.

Here’s a link to the Intelligence panel’s bill, Sensenbrenner’s bill and the manager’s amendment. CQ subscribers can find more details here.

  • Trojan1999

    On Wednesday, May 7, 2014 the U.S. House will consider amendments to NSA reform which would extend the duration of existing controversial programs. The little noticed changes, in Title VII of the Manager’s Amendment to the USA Freedom Act, would continue existing controversial programs.

    The bill reads “Section 102(b)(1) of the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorizatin Act of 2005 is amended by striking June 1, 2015 and inserting December 31, 2017.”
    The full markup may be found here:

  • White Army

    Since immorality and irresponsibility are incompatible with liberty, prosperity, and civilization we must see through the ever-shifting mirage of collectivist illusions and we must root out plunder at every turn.

  • Rob_Chapman

    ‘reasonable, articulable suspicion’ of whether a phone number could be connected to an intelligence or terrorism target.

    Articuable, what does that mean? Does the level of articulability raise or lower the standard of probable cause required to obtain a FISA court warrant? What is the effect of this change on the protection of privacy; on national security?

    Even while acknowledging that these bills enter new and novel areas of law, when we must coin new words to articulate the legal principles behind a law shouldn’t we all take a deep breath and either seek other language or acknowledge that the bill lacks the clarity and precision required in statutory law?

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