Well, that didn’t last long…
Though the FISA Bill was expected to pass the House floor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has CANCELED the vote.
President Trump threatened to veto it immediately.
Key parts of the federal surveillance program known as FISA would have been re-authorized, but the bill was met with huge resistance from Republicans and even progressive Democrats.
President Trump himself tweeted about the bill and pledged to VETO it immediately, writing:
If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it. Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it.
His tweet received over 100,000 likes in less than 3 hours.
Though a vote was expected on Wednesday night, Pelosi canceled the vote at the very last minute.
Shortly after 9:30 pm, an announcement was made that the vote was no longer taking place.
The Hill confirms the canceled vote:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) yanked a vote scheduled for Wednesday night on a bill reauthorizing lapsed surveillance programs after opposition from Republicans and progressives made it unclear if it could pass.
“Members are advised that votes are no longer expected in the House tonight,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office announced shortly after 9:30 p.m.
A Democratic aide confirmed that there would be “no further votes” in the House on Wednesday.
The decision to pull the vote comes after House Democratic leadership vowed on Wednesday to give the legislation a vote and worked furiously behind the scenes to try to shore up support for the bill.
But the fate of the bill remained in doubt going into Wednesday evening. House Democratic leadership delayed starting debate over the bill, instead bringing up unrelated, noncontroversial bills. The chamber then went into three 15-minute breaks as discussions continued off the floor.
A decision on the vote was delayed multiple times as House leadership held heated discussions over putting up the bill that could very well fail. While Pelosi advocated for pulling the bill to regroup, Hoyer pushed for the vote to be conducted Wednesday night, a source with knowledge of the situation told The Hill.
A source familiar told The Hill that Pelosi made the decision to pull the vote after speaking to the White House legislative affairs office.
It wasn’t immediately clear when, or if, Pelosi would bring the bill up for a vote. The House is expected to be in session on Thursday. She had floated earlier Wednesday that if the Senate-amended bill could not pass the House, she would try to send back an initial version that passed the House in March but did not make an announcement on Wednesday night regarding her plans.
Many political observers believe that Pelosi will try to revive the bill in the future to move it forward.
However, the path forward is unclear.
Republicans and progressive Democrats are strongly opposed to the underlying faults in the FISA bill.
It makes it virtually impossible to protect innocent Americans from warrantless surveillance, critics warn.
Things got even more complicated after the Department of Justice uncharacteristically interjected itself into the issue.
Attorney General William Barr flat out recommended that Trump veto the bill!
NPR has more details on the DOJ's opposition to the approval of the FISA bill:
Work on reviving a group of federal surveillance authorities halted at another political impasse on Wednesday after an unusual rejection by the Department of Justice.
The House was set to vote on an amended version of a Senate-approved bill that would have revived the lapsed surveillance powers. But lawmakers wrapped up their session Wednesday night without voting on the bill.
Even if had passed in the House, the legislation would have needed to ping-pong back over to the Senate because of House changes.
But the Justice Department seemed to cut off even the viability of that effort with a statement that not only reiterated how it considers the current legislation unacceptable, but promised that Attorney General William Barr would recommend that President Trump veto it. The president tweeted Wednesday evening that he would, in fact, veto the bill if it was sent to him.
Reformers in Congress say they want to address what they call the prospects for the abuse of surveillance authorities and problems identified by the Justice Department's inspector general related to surveillance during the Russia investigation.
Barr had said he was willing to accept some changes to FISA practices.
But Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, who manages the department's relationship with Capitol Hill, says now it can't go along with the legislation as it stands in the House.
It seems as though Americans' rights to privacy are protected from warrantless wiretapping and spying... for now.
FISA authorities expired earlier this year because lawmakers couldn't agree on broader changes to renew the bill.
COVID-19 also slowed down lawmakers' ability to come to an agreement.
But after the Russia-hoax, the issue of FISA in general is a radioactive political issue.