NDAA Includes Provision on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Lawmakers finished their business on Capitol Hill before the holiday recess, successfully passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, an essential annual bill that outlines Pentagon policy for the upcoming fiscal year, was approved and sent for further action.
Included in this year’s NDAA is a significant provision regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Specifically, lawmakers addressed Section 702, which grants the intelligence community the authority to conduct surveillance on foreign nationals outside the United States, even without a warrant. This provision allows the monitoring of communications involving American citizens as well.
FISA Debate Set for April
Rather than resolving the ongoing FISA debate, the NDAA postpones it until April. Experts predict that finding a resolution will be challenging. Critics of Section 702, spanning both the right and left sides of the political spectrum, aim to greatly limit its scope, arguing that it infringes upon the civil rights of American citizens. On the other hand, supporters argue that this tool is vital in preventing potential terror attacks.
FAA Reauthorization Deadline Extended to March
In addition to the FISA debate, lawmakers have allotted themselves until March to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA, a critical U.S. program, was initially set to expire this year but received a short extension. The Senate is expected to address this matter next week.
Government Funding Fight Looms
As lawmakers enjoy their holiday break, the unresolved government funding fight remains a pressing concern. A stopgap federal spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), mandates that certain agencies be funded by January 19, with the rest funded by February 2.
The House of Representatives has passed five out of the twelve required single-subject appropriations bills, as promised. Meanwhile, the Senate has passed three bills in a combined effort known as a “minibus.” Despite this progress, negotiators in the House and Senate are still at odds over the final funding amount, which they will ultimately have to compromise on.
In the coming months, lawmakers will face significant challenges as they tackle the FISA debate, FAA reauthorization, and the government funding issue. The decisions made during this time will shape the policies and programs that impact the American people for the foreseeable future.