Following a hearing on May 11 on The FISA Sunsets Reauthorization Act of 2011 (H.R.1800), the House Judiciary Committee held a markup on the bill on May 13. The committee moved H.R. 1800 with no amendments, substantially by a party line vote. On final passage, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-R) voted no, and Reps. Pedro Pierluisi (PR-D) and Mike Quigley (IL-D) voted yes.
H.R. 1800 would reauthorize both the “John Doe” wiretap and Section 215 orders for another six years and would make the unused “lone wolf” provision permanent. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pointed out, “If this bill passes, it would mean that until 2017, the government would have nearly unchecked authority and be subject to little congressional oversight for issuing 215 orders that allow the government to demand “any tangible thing” during an investigation, including credit reports, medical records, business records and even library records – all without any suspicion of wrongdoing. The government would have the same unchecked authority to place roving wiretaps on essentially any phone line, without getting a warrant for a specific, identified individual first.”
It is not clear at this writing when the bill will go to the House floor for a vote. The sunset date for the three expiring provisions (Sec. 215, roving wiretaps and lone wolf) is May 27 — just as the House goes into its Memorial Day recess. Some observers suggest that there is time for the House and Senate to finalize their respective bills and conference the two versions by May 27. Others are highly skeptical that this can happen. It is more likely that there would be a short-term extension beyond May 27 to finalize this work before the Fourth of July recess.
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