Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver, joined the state's congressional Democrats in opposing renewal of a controversial foreign intelligence law that allows spy agencies to sweep up communications from Americans.
Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Vancouver, joined Washington’s six Democratic U.S. House representatives on Thursday in opposition to renewal of the federal government’s warrantless surveillance program.
Herrera Beutler was one of 45 Republicans who voted against the bill, which reauthorized U.S. spy agencies to conduct surveillance on foreign targets abroad, but also to sweep up some communications by Americans. It was supported by Washington’s other three GOP U.S. House members, Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn; Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.
In an emailed statement through a spokeswoman, Herrera Beutler said while the bill contained reforms, there remained strong disagreement about whether it adequately protected the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.
“Our nation’s efforts to thwart terrorist attacks will continue to necessitate intelligence gathering, but it’s critical that we debate, amend and improve such efforts until we’ve removed any doubt that U.S. citizens could be deprived of due process. It’s vital we move forward, but it’s also vital we get this right,” Herrera Beutler said.
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The bill passed the House on a 256-164 vote and heads to the Senate. President Donald Trump sent contradictory tweets on the measure Thursday, first criticizing it and then pledging to sign it.
Democrats in Washington’s congressional delegation were united in opposition to the bill, which extended for six years the government’s authority under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, said in a statement that the “bulk collection” of American communications “is a gross violation of our civil liberties and we must protect these communications from warrantless searches.”
She added: “Our first priority must always be keeping Americans safe and I believe we can find a balance between respecting the Fourth Amendment and protecting our national security. This legislation fails to make the critical reforms needed to address the privacy concerns of Americans, which is why I oppose it.”
Joining DelBene in opposition were Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle; Denny Heck, D-Olympia; Rick Larsen, D-Everett; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Adam Smith, D-Bellevue.
Before the final vote, the House rejected an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, backed by civil-liberties advocates, which would have required the FBI to get a warrant before querying a database containing communications from Americans, according to the Associated Press.
Washington’s delegation split differently on that amendment, with Heck and Kilmer joining most Republicans in voting no, and McMorris Rodgers joining most Democrats in voting yes.