May 28 (UPI) -- The House halted a vote Thursday for a second time on a bill reauthorizing provisions related to spying under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act amid growing opposition.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi canceled a vote on the bill Thursday, marking the second time within 24 hours that House Democratic leadership dropped plans to vote on the bill. The House had initially planned to vote on the bill Wednesday night, but the vote was scrapped as opposition to the bill grew.
If passed, the bill, titled the "USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020," would have reauthorized through December 1, 2023, lapsed provisions related to intelligence gathering under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act. It would have also increased criminal penalties for surveillance violations.
"At the request of the Speaker of the House, I am withdrawing consideration of the FISA Act," Hoyer said in the statement. "The two-thirds of the Republican Party that voted for this bill in March have indicated they are going to vote against it now. I am told they are doing so at the request of the president. I believe this to be against the security interest of the United States and the safety of the American people."
Along with growing Republican opposition, some progressives oppose the bill, making it harder to pass in the Democratic-controlled House with only Democratic support.
Earlier this month the Senate passed an amendment providing increased protections for those under surveillance, but dropped a provision to require law enforcement to get a warrant to access web browsing history. After that, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Marc Pocan, D-Wis., co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, opposed the bill.
"We have grave concerns that this legislation does not protect people in the United States from warrantless surveillance, especially their online activity including web browsing and Internet searches," they said in a joint statement. "Despite some positive reforms, the legislation is far too narrow in scope and would still leave the public vulnerable to invasive online spying and data collection."
Pelosi wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter Thursday that the vote to reauthorize FISA is usually bipartisan, but Republicans withdrew support for the bill after President Donald Trump tweeted he would veto it.
"The Administration -- particularly some in the Justice Department -- would like nothing better than to not have a bill," Pelosi wrote. "Without a bill, there would be all the leeway in the world not to protect Americans' privacy."
"Clearly, because House Republicans have prioritized politics over our national security, we will no longer have a bipartisan veto-proof majority. Therefore, as Leader Hoyer just announced, we will no longer be voting on the bill today."
Pelosi said the next step would be "to go to conference" and try to negotiate a deal on the final bill.