Press Releases

Statement on Final Passage of FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act in the Senate

Demand Progress harshly criticizes those Democrats who voted for cloture and passage, ceding tremendous power to the executive branch to engage in mass and warrantless surveillance

January 18, 2018
CONTACT: Sean Vitka, Policy Counsel, Demand Progress, 570.798.7678

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Senate voted in favor of final passage of surveillance-expanding legislation known as the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act. Demand Progress led opposition to this legislation from its inception and urged members of Congress to support real reform that upholds the public’s basic privacy rights. The following statement can be attributed to Demand Progress Policy Counsel Sean Vitka:

“Demand Progress condemns today’s vote in the Senate. By invoking cloture Tuesday and precluding the opportunity to debate and amend the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act—a bill that lacks meaningful reforms and effectively expands surveillance of Americans—the Senate rubber-stamped a failed process that occurred entirely outside the public eye. There was not one hour of open Senate debate devoted to this legislation, which endangers the civil liberties of millions of Americans. The bill’s green light to the government to engage in warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications is a particularly egregious affront to privacy rights and has no place under the Fourth Amendment.

“We especially criticize those Democrats who voted for cloture Tuesday and passage today. These Democrats broke with a bipartisan and principled set of senators from both parties who support real reform. With their vote, these Democrats have ceded power to the executive branch to engage in mass and warrantless surveillance. This expanded surveillance power is particularly troubling in the hands of the Trump Administration, which has made regular practice of cynical, politically-expedient and dangerous attacks on our country’s most targeted communities.

“Today’s vote took place in the face of outrageous misrepresentations and bigoted statements by the House Intelligence Committee majority, which every member of Congress should condemn. All Democrats that voted for cloture and this bill’s final passage failed their supporters, who both expect and depend on the Democratic party to safeguard basic constitutional protections. Demand Progress will continue to advocate tirelessly for and mobilize the public in support of the civil liberties protections this legislation fails to deliver. We must prevent further erosion of our rights.”

Last week, 44 privacy and transparency organizations called for the defeat of Section 702 reauthorization absent key changes, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have contacted Congress in opposition to reauthorization of Section 702 without major reforms. Last week, Demand Progress Action also called on Democrats to denounce racist propaganda that the House Intel Committee has repeatedly circulated in recent weeks.