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Reform or Expire? The Battle to Reauthorize FISA Programs

On March 15, 2020, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act - a surveillance law with a rich history of government overreach and abuse - expired. Along with two other PATRIOT Act provisions, Section 215 lapsed after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a broader set of reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

In the week before the law expired, the House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act, which would have extended Section 215 for three more years, along with some modest reforms. After negotiations, the Senate passed a slightly amended version of the bill, but after a veto threat from the President, the House of Representatives failed to pass it. The bill currently remains expired, but the question remains - for how long? And what will reform look like?

In this discussion, India and Andrew will explain the political factors behind this unusual legislative journey, as well as the policy implications of these proposals.