Reps. Conyers and Reyes Introduce FISA Reform Bill
October 9, 2007. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced HR 3773 [PDF | LOC | WW], the "Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007" or RESTORE Act.
Rep. Conyers (at left) also scheduled this bill for a pop mark up by the full House Judiciary Committee (HJC) on Wednesday, morning, October 10, 2007, at 10:15 AM.
This a House Democrats' Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform bill. It contrasts on many issues with S 1927, which Bush administration representatives have urged be made permanent.
The Senate approved S 1927 [LOC | WW], the "Protect America Act" or "PAA", on August 3, 2007, by a vote of 60-28. See, Roll Call No. 309. The House approved the bill on August 4, 2007, by a vote of 227-183. See, Roll Call No. 836. President Bush signed the bill on August 5, 2007. It is now Public Law No. 110-55. It contains a six month sunset provision. See also, story titled "Summary of Protect America Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,638, September 11, 2007.
Rep. Conyers' no notice tactic deprives the Bush administration and its supporters in the House of effectively responding to, and organizing opposition to, the bill before its mark up. President Bush employed a similar tactic two months ago to win enactment of S 1927.
Rep. Conyers also issued a news release, and a short summary of the bill.
Rep. Conyers' release states that this bill is "an effort to address concerns about civil liberty protections in the hastily-enacted “Protect America Act” that was signed into law in early August. The RESTORE ACT restores court oversight of intelligence gathering by requiring that electronic surveillance programs be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, mandating that FISA warrants be obtained when the government wants to undertake surveillance of persons in the US, and authorizing continued oversight of programs by the Court, Congress, and independent auditors."
Rep. Reyes (at right) stated in this release that this bill "provides the Intelligence Community with strong tools to track down terrorists, weapons proliferators, and spies ... But it also protects the civil liberties of Americans and requires stronger oversight by Congress."
Rep. Conyers is Chairman of the HJC. Rep. Reyes is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HIC). The HIC has not publicly announced a date for markup of this or any other FISA reform bill.
The agenda for the HJC includes nine bills. The HJC usually takes up bills in the
order that they appear on the agenda. HR 3773 is the first listed item.