Floor Statement in Support of the USA FREEDOM Act
(Washington, DC) – Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in strong support of the USA FREEDOM Act. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
On May 8th, the House Intelligence Committee passed out of Committee the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act – the identical bill that the Judiciary Committee passed out of Committee on May 7th.
I especially want to thank Chairman Rogers for his years of leadership here on the House Intelligence Committee. I also want to thank Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers, and the staff of our Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. We have worked together in a bipartisan manner, and we have come a long way.
After our Committee markups, Chairman Rogers and I have continued to work with the Judiciary Committee and the Administration to iron out some remaining issues, which we have done, and which is represented in the current bill. This bill represents the productive efforts of bipartisanship and working together for the American people.
Just yesterday, the Administration stated that it “strongly supports” passage of our bill. It also stated the USA FREEDOM Act “ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected.”
The USA FREEDOM Act contains important measures to increase transparency and enhance privacy while maintaining an important national security tool.
First, we have ended bulk collection of telephone metadata, and ensured the court reviews each search application.
The big database up at the National Security Agency that contains phone numbers of millions of Americans will go away.
It will be replaced with a tailored, narrow process that allows the Government to search only for specific connections to suspected terrorists, to keep us safe here at home. There is an important emergency exception when there isn’t time to get prior approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – also known as the FISC.
Second, we have required expanded reporting for Court decisions to improve transparency without threatening sources and methods.
Third, we are creating an advocate to provide outside expertise for significant matters before the FISA Court.
Fourth, we have established a declassification review process of Court opinions, to ensure the public has access to our national security legal rulings in a manner that still protects our sources and methods.
The USA FREEDOM Act is critical to our country’s safety and our Intelligence Community. It is a focused, logical bill that will let us protect our citizens from terrorist attacks through important legal tools while strengthening civil liberties.
I was opposed to the original USA FREEDOM Act because it set too high a standard for intelligence collection. In short, it would have threated America’s safety by cutting off the building blocks of foreign intelligence investigations. We have worked together in a bipartisan manner, and created a solid bill.
Read the bill. It ends bulk collection of all metadata, including telephone metadata. Those who say this bill will legalize bulk collection are wrong. They are trying to scare you by making you think there are monsters under the bed. There aren't. We end bulk collection of metadata records.
The USA FREEDOM Act includes the necessary checks and balances across all three branches of government. It protects our nation while also protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to submit a longer statement for the record.
I reserve the balance of my time.