Schiff, Flake, Inslee, Van Hollen Author Bipartisan Amendment to Prohibit NSA Surveillance on American Soil Unless Authorized by Law

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Adam Schiff today offered a bipartisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would block any funds from being used by the NSA and other Defense Department agencies for electronic surveillance in the United States unless the surveillance complies with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) laws.  The amendment was debated on the House Floor for over an hour and a half and a vote is expected on it later tonight. 

“Electronic surveillance of those seeking to harm our country must continue; it must also comply with the law,” Schiff said.  “When Congress said the Administration must get court approval for domestic surveillance, we meant it.  If the law needs to be revised to meet new challenges in the war on terrorism, the Administration should come to Congress and make the case for a statutory change.”

Rep. Schiff’s amendment provides that the government must obtain a warrant when surveillance of Americans or others occurs in the United States.  It does not prevent the Federal Government from fulfilling its duty to pursue al Qaeda and other terrorists with all available tools, including the use of electronic surveillance, to thwart future attacks and to destroy the enemy.  Current FISA law allows the Administration to obtain wiretaps in a timely and confidential manner through a proper court of law, up to 72 hours after the surveillance begins.

Earlier this year, Rep. Schiff introduced the NSA Oversight Act (H.R. 4976), which would clarify that FISA continues to be the exclusive means by which domestic electronic surveillance may be conducted.  
The amendment is cosponsored by Representatives Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).