Speaker Johnson Faces Backlash from America First Republicans Over FISA Stance

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) once a fierce critic of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before assuming the leadership position has found himself at odds with the very GOP members who elevated him to the Speakership. Johnson’s reversal on FISA reauthorization which allows federal agencies to continue warrantless domestic spying on American citizens has sparked outrage among America First lawmakers.

Efforts to implement stricter controls such as a mandatory warrant for surveillance and a prohibition against federal agencies purchasing American data from online brokers were narrowly defeated in the House. This has allowed for the continuation of what many consider unconstitutional surveillance practices.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has expressed strong opposition to Johnson’s stance even co-sponsoring a resolution filed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to remove Johnson from the Speakership citing his reversal on crucial privacy issues as the main reason. “The will of the majority was to have a warrant provision and he was on the other side of that. There are no red lines here. I just think he lost a lot of capital with that vote” Massie said.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) a key figure in last year’s movement to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) which paved the way for Johnson’s ascendancy is deeply disappointed with Johnson’s about-face on privacy. “These were views that the Speaker deeply held like 20 minutes ago” Gaetz remarked.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) also strongly opposed FISA as reauthorized and criticized Johnson’s failure to lead on the issues. “The American people don’t want their liberties taken away. They want their Fourth Amendment liberties to be upheld” he emphasized.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) accused Johnson of turning against his former GOP colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee. “What we ended up with was a bill that didn’t have the warrant protections in the bill. It was going to be forced to be added as an amendment. And then the Speaker of the House put his finger on the scale against the amendment. And that pretty much is the story” Roy explained.

“This is not off of the House floor so everybody’s got to go home and answer their constituents over the next 72 hours about why they are siding with the intelligence agencies and the deep state and the swamp over the rights and the liberties of the American people. That was the choice today” he continued. “And every single person in this body no matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat voted against an amendment to protect Americans to protect them with a warrant and they’ve got to answer to it.”

Johnson’s shift from privacy advocacy to supporting broad surveillance powers highlights the challenges leaders face when privy to national security data. However his reversal also sets a potentially dangerous precedent where security imperatives justify expansive surveillance capabilities potentially at the expense of civil liberties.

As the fallout from the FISA reauthorization vote continues America First Republicans are making their voices heard. The rift between Speaker Johnson and his former allies on privacy issues underscores the delicate balance between national security and individual rights a debate that is sure to shape the future of American surveillance policies.

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