Statement of Temporary FISA Reauthorization

Transcript: 

mr. conyers: madam speaker, i'm pleased now to yield to the distinguished majority leader of the house of representatives, steny hoyer, as much time as he may consume -- one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. hoyer: i thank the distinguished chairman for yielding. i rise in support of this particular extension. i do not rise and did not rise in support of the underlying bill that we are extending. but -- and i think the gentleman from ohio raised some valid points. as the chairman thinks he raised valid points as well. but the issue here is really one of allowing this body an opportunity to pass a bill that speaks to the constitutional issues that have been raised, as well as the substantive issues raised by mr. issa and what we all want to do is protect america and americans. today the house is voting on a 15-day extension. nothing more, nothing less. before we do that, i want to remind my colleagues that this body has already passed legislation to re-authorize fisa. on november 15, 2 1/2 months ago, this body passed the restore act, a bill that modernizes the technologically outdated the foreign intelligence surveillance act of 1978, gives the intelligence community an opportunity to intercept critical information and protects our constitutional rights. the bill was skillfully done by john conyers and silvestre reyes. despite the body's efforts over 2 1/2 months ago, the senate has yet to complete its work on its own fisa legislation. this week they failed to get cloture on either alternative. we're going to wait its bill and look forward to an undoubtedly challenging but productive conference. this will take sometime. second, on the issue of immunity, which the president has so highly touted, our committees have been asking for eight months to see the legal documents pertaining to the president's terrorist surveillance program. and we've received eight straight months of denials. the white house only offered this access last friday. it is reasonable to conclude for the committees to carry out its own responsibilities and constitutional duties. it needs some time to do that. this afternoon our judiciary members will be read into the program and only next week will they begin to digest the heft stack of document that is will in -- the hefty stack of documents. my position has been that in order to give immunity we need to know what we are giving immunity for and what the justification for the actions were. again, we need time for this important review. this extension gives us that time. finally, let me say to my colleagues that even if we were unable to do this extension, and this is very important, even if we were unable to do this extension, february 1 would come and go without any new legislation. no one should fall victim to those fear mongers who suggest that our intelligence community would go dark. it would not. that is simply not the case. the authorizations issued under the protect america act are in effect for up to one full year. so that any requests that have been made and authorized up to this point in time from august on would be in effect at least through next july. even if they had been authorized in august. the authorization issued under the protect america act will help pro tech us to that extent. this means that all of the surveillance in effect today will remain in effect for at least six more months. even the administration's own assisted attorney general acknowledged this saying that if the p.a.a. were allowed to expire, intelligence officials would still be able to continue eavesdropping on already approved targets for another year. in fact, out of an abundance of caution, last thursday when i announced the schedule for this week, i urged the administration if it had any authorizations it needed to proceed on that for fear that we might not extend this act. i think we will do that today. so that fear will not be realized. for those new threats developed after february, let us not forget that the underlying statute still gives the administration three days worth of emergency authority to immediately begin surveillance without going to the court. no less -- the court, by the way, has no backlog. . ...