Senate Passes Lee-Leahy FISA Amendment

May 13, 2020

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) issued the following statement Wednesday after the Senate voted 77-19 to adopt the Lee-Leahy Amendment to USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020.

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. But men are not angels so our government will always need oversight and accountability to make sure it doesn’t abuse its power. The Lee-Leahy Amendment just passed by the Senate will help bring some much-needed oversight and accountability to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. More work still needs to be done, but this is good reform in the right direction, and I look forward to final passage of this FISA reform legislation.”

The Lee-Leahy amendment will strengthen third-party oversight of the FISA process. Specifically, it requires FISA court judges to appoint an amicus curae (a neutral third-party observer) in any case involving a “sensitive investigative matter” so long as the FISA court does not determine it to be inappropriate.

The amendment will also empower the amicus to raise any issue with the court at any time and give both the amicus and the FISA court access to all documents and information related to the surveillance application.

Final passage of the legislation is expected Thursday.