Conservatives warm to proposed changes in FISA reauthorization bill

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Conservative holdouts on Thursday appear to be warming to modifications proposed to the legislation reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, one day after 19 of them tanked a procedural vote related to the bill delivering another embarrassing defeat to House Republican leadership.

The new version of the bill would be a two-year reauthorization instead of five years, meaning that if former President Donald Trump won the presidential election this year, the legislation would be up in time for Trump to overhaul FISA laws next time around.

“We just bought President Trump an at bat. The previous version of this bill would have kicked reauthorization beyond the Trump presidency,” Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida told CNN, pledging to back the rule vote on the floor, which, per a GOP leadership aide, is expected Friday morning. “Now President Trump gets an at bat to fix the system that victimized him more than any other American.”

The House Rules Committee voted 8-4 Thursday evening to bring the revised FISA reauthorization bill to the floor for debate.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has organized a classified reading room off the House floor for members to view classified information ahead of Friday’s vote on the reauthorization of FISA, according to the aide, as he inches closer to the votes needed to pass the bill.

Johnson is hoping the classified material will convince every member that passing the FISA bill is critical to national security because there is no room for error with such a slim majority. Viewing will be available at 8 a.m. ahead of the expected 8:45 a.m. rule vote, according to the aide.

Hardliners are touting the two-year reauthorization as a major win as well as an agreement that next week they will have a separate floor vote on data privacy legislation from Republican Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio that will be subject to a rule.

“We’re also excited as a part of these discussions to get an absolute assurance from the speaker that next week we will have the Davidson amendment up as a rule vote,” Gaetz said. Gaetz said the hardliners are “really grateful at the receptiveness to some of our requests.”

GOP Rep. Cory Mills of Florida said he is still undecided on the rule but signaled he is warming up to the idea following the concessions they received Republican from leadership.

“I really haven’t made that determination,” Mills said. “There are some incremental changes that are getting me closer to that point.”

Whether Mills actually supports the underlying legislation, however, depends on whether the Davidson amendment gets adopted, he said.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who voted against the rule Wednesday, said he doesn’t want to get ahead of things, but “I do like the progress that is being made.”

“We are increasingly optimistic, but we are still having the conversations necessary obviously to get the votes,” Roy said.

Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida also said she will back the rule vote.

“I am hearing negotiations went well,” Luna said.

South Carolina GOP Rep. Ralph Norman said he was satisfied by the changes made.

“Barring anything else, I will be good,” Norman said.

GOP leadership has also been in contact with Trump about changes to the bill. Majority Leader Steve Scalise told reporters earlier Thursday that members have talked to Trump about FISA over the last 24 hours after Trump called on members to “kill FISA” ahead of the failed rule vote.

Scalise says the new version of the bill “definitely makes it a smoother path to getting it passed.”

“There have been some conversations with the president, and I am not going to share those conversations, but I think the two-year sunset has a lot of appeal to a lot of people,” Scalise said.

Asked if it appealed to Trump, Scalise said “to a lot of people.”

Johnson is also slated to meet with Trump on Friday in Florida.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.

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