House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told Fox News on Thursday that he is willing to let the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expire – which could occur in 10 days – if lawmakers cannot agree on how to reauthorize the program.
Nadler has said he favors a major overhaul to the surveillance program – which gives the government authority to wiretap and electronically skim information between foreign entities and those inside the U.S. in the interest of national security – after Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz laid out the significant errors and flaws in the law's application in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page as part of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Despite this, with the deadline ticking closer, Nadler’s panel canceled a markup session to prepare a new FISA bill last week over disagreements about amendments.
Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about the merits of FISA after alleged abuses were exposed in the Russia investigation and the task is made more difficult as the Trump administration struggles to fill a vacancy for a new director of National Intelligence.
President Trump has lambasted government intelligence agencies, accusing them of abusing their authority in an effort to spy on political opponents and has demanded major reforms before he will pass a reauthorization.
Some Republicans who have advocated for significant changes to clamp down on the program have accused Democrats of tabling discussions in an attempt to prevent changes from being made.
“The president said he’s not signing without something happening,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters after the nearly 90-minute meeting with top lawmakers. "He pushed back very vigorously and said, ‘We’re not doing this.’"
Attorney General William Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., remain outnumbered by their Republican colleagues as they fight to convince Trump to renew FISA with minimal changes and then tackle significant reforms later on.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.