America First Republicans Rally Against Speaker Johnson’s FISA Reversal

Controversy has engulfed the Republican Party as America First lawmakers take aim at House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) who has reversed his previous position on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reauthorization, making this, along with a new foreign aid push, the second reversal on promises made to conservatives in just a short week. The speaker is, in many senses, doing exactly what got former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) ousted.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has been one of the most vocal critics accusing Johnson of betraying his former GOP colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee. “What we ended up with was a bill that didn’t have the warrant protections in the bill. It was going to be forced to be added as an amendment. And then the Speaker of the House put his finger on the scale against the amendment. And that pretty much is the story,” Roy explained.

Roy emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “This is not off of the House floor, so everybody’s got to go home and answer their constituents over the next 72 hours about why they are siding with the intelligence agencies and the deep state and the swamp over the rights and the liberties of the American people. That was the choice today. And every single person in this body, no matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, voted against an amendment to protect Americans, to protect them with a warrant, and they’ve got to answer to it.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has taken his opposition a step further by co-sponsoring a resolution filed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to remove Johnson from the Speakership. “The will of the majority was to have a warrant provision, and he was on the other side of that. There are no red lines here. I just think he lost a lot of capital with that vote,” Massie commented.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a key figure in last year’s movement that led to Johnson’s ascendancy, expressed his disappointment with the Speaker’s about-face on privacy. “These were views that the Speaker deeply held, like, 20 minutes ago,” Gaetz remarked.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) also strongly opposed FISA as reauthorized and criticized Johnson’s failure to lead on the issues. “The American people don’t want their liberties taken away. They want their Fourth Amendment liberties to be upheld,” he stressed.

The divide between Speaker Johnson and the America First wing of the Republican Party highlights the ongoing debate between national security and individual privacy rights. As the fallout from the FISA reauthorization vote continues, the future of American surveillance policies hangs in the balance.

Johnson’s shift from privacy advocacy to supporting broad surveillance powers exemplifies the challenges leaders face when privy to national security data. However, his reversal also sets a potentially dangerous precedent where security imperatives justify expansive surveillance capabilities, potentially at the expense of civil liberties.

As the America First Republicans rally against Johnson’s FISA stance, the rift within the party deepens, underscoring the delicate balance between national security and individual rights. The outcome of this debate will not only shape the future of the Republican Party but also the direction of American surveillance policies for years to come.