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FISA doubts linger as Appropriations, Rules shift likely

News: We have a few news nuggets we wanted to share with you.

1) The House Republican leadership wants to install retiring Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) as the chair of the House Rules Committee for the rest of this Congress. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the current chair, is expected to be tapped as the next chair of the House Appropriations Committee during a GOP Steering Committee meeting on April 9. Cole is heavily favored to replace retiring Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who is stepping down from the Appropriations post. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) wants to delay that vote, although that doesn’t seem likely to happen. So Texas would get one gavel but lose another. Speaker Mike Johnson gets to appoint the chair of the Rules Committee.

One quick aside here — there’s never been an Appropriations Committee chair from Oklahoma or Alabama.

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) is seen as the future chair of the Rules Committee, but GOP leaders would prefer to keep him as the chief deputy whip for the time being. Chief deputy whips have a long history of success in the House Republican Conference — Roy Blunt (Mo.), Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Dennis Hastert (Ill.) all served as chief deputy whip.

The looming shuffle at the Appropriations and Rules panels is part of the broader wave of committee makeovers that House Republicans face heading into the 119th Congress.

McHenry is giving up the Financial Services Committee gavel, while Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is also retiring. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) is term-limited (again) at Education and Workforce, as is Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.). Some of those members will seek waivers to stay in their posts; Foxx already got one waiver to chair the Education and Workforce panel this Congress. Some of these chairs will get challenged if they try to stay on, as is already happening at Transportation and Infrastructure.

There’s also Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who announced he was retiring, only to reverse course and unretire.

2) Don’t hold your breath for a Ukraine aid bill to come to the floor next week. The Republican leadership intends to move a FISA extension before putting a foreign aid package on the floor, according to multiple sources familiar with GOP plans.

FISA expires on April 19. Ukraine aid is possible after the FISA fight is resolved, but almost everyone believes it’s far more likely to hit the floor the week of April 15.

3) Let’s talk about the FISA situation. There’s still no agreement between the House Judiciary and Intelligence panels over how to handle the Section 702 controversy. This has been going on for months with no resolution.

In December and February, Johnson pulled FISA bills because the two panels — in what’s a bipartisan split — can’t agree on the highly contentious issue of whether the FBI and national security agencies must go to court and obtain a search warrant for any surveillance queries that involve a U.S. person.

The Judiciary Committee, led by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chair and ranking member, wants this provision added to FISA. The Intelligence Committee, led by Reps. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.) — and backed up by the national security agencies — says no.

Johnson has been unable to find a consensus, even when he sat Jordan and Turner down for a face-to-face negotiation. Johnson backed away from bringing the Intelligence Committee version of the legislation to the floor last month.

There’s been lots of chatter behind the scenes this week over potential permutations for a floor vote. Would Johnson try to go to Rules on the previous FISA package — favored by the Intelligence Committee — and allow amendment votes? Would he just attempt to bring it up under suspension, figuring it can garner 290 votes? Will he try again for a compromise?

Again, there hasn’t been a decision made on this.

Also news: The Congressional Leadership Fund raised $25 million in the first quarter of 2024. They have $65 million on hand. In 2020, the last presidential election year, CLF raised $5.4 million in the first quarter.

CLF and the American Action Network have raised $142 million this cycle. Johnson, like McCarthy before him, backs the groups and helps them raise money.

— Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

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