House Fails to Pass Amendment for Warrant Requirement in Surveillance

 April 13, 2024
In a striking display of political division and concern for privacy rights, the U.S. House of Representatives witnessed a tie vote that led to the failure of an essential privacy amendment.

According to Breitbart, the proposed amendment, which sought to impose a warrant requirement for the surveillance of Americans under Section 702 of the FISA, did not pass, mirroring the nation's deep-seated divisions and raising alarms about privacy rights.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, a Republican, as part of the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act. This was a bold attempt to modify Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which notoriously allows for the surveillance of Americans without a warrant under the guise of targeting foreign threats.

The Vote Is In

In this closely contested vote, eighty-six Republicans chose not to support the amendment, resulting in a 212-212 deadlock. As per House rules, amendments fail if they do not achieve a majority vote, meaning this tie spelled the end for the warrant requirement this round.

Sean Vitka, the Policy Director at Demand Progress, sharply criticized the House leadership for its resistance to privacy reforms, highlighting a decade-long trend of sidelining privacy protections.

Public Opinion Clashes With Congressional Action

Despite overwhelming public support for the warrant requirement — a YouGov poll commissioned by FreedomWorks and Demand Progress revealed a 76 percent approval rate among Americans — the House did not align with this sentiment. This discrepancy underscores a significant disconnect between legislative actions and public opinion on privacy matters.

Only House Majority Whip Tom Emmer stood out among the Republican leadership by voting in favor of the amendment, aligning with the majority of the Republican Conference. Meanwhile, Speaker Mike Johnson, who had previously voiced support for closing the controversial "backdoor search loophole" in Section 702, voted against the amendment following a classified briefing.

Sean Vitka elaborated on the situation, saying, "We applaud the leaders of the House Judiciary, including Reps. Andy Biggs, Pramila Jayapal, Jim Jordan, Jerry Nadler, Warren Davidson, and Zoe Lofgren, for fighting tirelessly for over a year to advance the serious privacy protections that the public overwhelmingly supports and deserves. Their efforts were heroic and fundamentally changed this debate, which is all the more impressive considering the deceit and dirty tricks wielded against reform over the past year."

A Moment of Reflection on Privacy and Constitutional Rights

Representatives across the political spectrum, including Thomas Massie, Andrew Clyde, and Scott Perry, expressed their disappointment over the amendment's failure. Their reactions reflect a bipartisan concern for the erosion of privacy rights and the imperative to uphold constitutional protections in digital surveillance practices.

This tight vote not only highlights the divisions within the Republican party but also amplifies the conversation about privacy rights in the age of digital surveillance.


The failure of Rep. Andy Biggs's amendment has ignited a renewed debate over the balance between national security and individual privacy rights.

With high public support for warrant requirements and persistent concerns over privacy invasions, this issue continues to simmer at the heart of American political discourse.

Despite the setback, advocates for privacy reforms remain undeterred, drawing attention to the fundamental values at stake and the ongoing need for legislative actions that align with constitutional protections and public sentiment.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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