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Democrats had already postponed a vote slated for Wednesday because of earlier objections from the president, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer officially pulled the bill from consideration Thursday morning when it became clear that House Republicans would no longer back the bill.
“The President tweeted that he would veto the bill, and House Republicans abandoned their support for our national security,” Pelosi said a statement Thursday after Hoyer announced the vote was off.
The planned vote was to reauthorize Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provisions and enact more reforms to safeguard civil liberties. The House was to take up the Senate measure that passed 80-16 to reauthorize lapsed provisions and revise how the Justice Department and FBI use the tools designed to fight terrorism.
The House in March passed its FISA reform version with broad bipartisan support by a 278-136 vote. If the House had passed the Senate version, it would have gone straight to Trump’s desk.
But Trump on Tuesday, over Twitter, urged all Republicans in the House to vote against a bill that many had already supported back in March. GOP House leaders whipped against the measure as a result and Democrats were left with a choice of trying to pass a once strongly bipartisan bill by themselves or convene a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions.
Trump solidified the choice when on Wednesday he tweeted again, this time announcing he would veto the FISA bill.
“If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it,” Trump tweeted ahead of the vote. “Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!”
With many progressive Democrats already against the legislation because they don’t think it goes far enough to protect Americans from government searches and surveillance, Pelosi chose to abandon the vote and call a conference committee.
“Clearly because House Republicans have prioritized politics over our national security, we will no longer have a bipartisan veto-proof majority,” Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues. “…It will be our intention to go to conference in order to ensure that all of the views of all members of our Caucus are represented in the final product.”
Trump’s fresh objections to the bill stem from his longstanding belief that the intelligence community overstepped its authority and improperly surveilled his campaign for political reasons in the Russia probe.
New documents have recently been declassified regarding the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn that have angered Trump and perpetuated his belief that Obama-era officials were using law enforcement and surveillance tools to sink him. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI regarding his contacts with Russia, but he’s since reversed his plea and Trump’s Justice Department is seeking to drop the case, though a federal judge hasn’t yet allowed it.
On Thursday, Trump thanked Republicans for blocking the FISA legislation, saying it “would just perpetuate the abuse that produced the Greatest Political Crime In the History of the U.S., the Russian Witch-Hunt.”