Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Speaks Out Against Surveillance Bill, Calls For Real Reform to Protect Privacy & Civil Liberties

May 28, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DC—Through legislative actions yesterday and today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) opposed efforts to advance H.R.6172, the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020. Earlier this week, Rep. Gabbard submitted two amendments and argued that strong protections against the warrantless collection of Americans’ Internet browsing history must be added to H.R.6172 in order to ensure warrantless surveillance and collection of data on American citizens would be prohibited.
 
However, House leadership did not allow any amendments to H.R.6172. Ultimately, a vote on the bill was cancelled due to lack of bipartisan support.  
 
Having failed to pass H.R.6172, House leaders voted to send the bill to a conference committee of House and Senate members to negotiate changes to the final bill. However, Rep. Gabbard voted against this because it took away the House of Representatives ability to enact necessary changes, and because it stripped an amendment that strengthened religious freedom and free speech rights.
 
“It is the responsibility of our nation’s leaders to strike a balance between keeping the American people safe and ensuring our constitutional rights and freedoms are upheld. This bill failed to meet that standard by continuing to allow for surveillance or collection of information on American citizens without a warrant, therefore violating our 4th Amendment rights,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “The American people deserve the peace of mind in knowing that our government will keep them safe and respect their civil liberties and privacy in doing so.”
 
Rep. Gabbard introduced an amendment that would strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to expand its mandate to oversee all foreign intelligence activities and allow it to issue subpoenas to compel testimony or produce documents without the prior approval of the U.S. Attorney General. She has continually fought for this since her first term in Congress when she introduced H.R.5595, the Strengthening Privacy, Oversight, and Transparency Act (SPOT) Act.
 
She also introduced an amendment that would prohibit the use of FISA authorities against any U.S. Citizen and lawful, permanent resident without a warrant from a traditional Federal Court and it blocks any evidence obtained under FISA authorities in subsequent proceedings against them if such a warrant was not obtained. A similar amendment was offered by Sen. Rand Paul (KY) during the U.S. Senate consideration of the bill earlier this month.
 
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a leader in Congress opposing mass surveillance and the warrantless collection of Americans’ calls, emails, texts and other communications, and has been a strong defender of American’s civil liberties in Congress. 
 
In mid-May, an amendment authored by Sens. Wyden (OR) and Daines (MT) would prevent the warrantless collection of Americans’ internet browsing history. It drew bipartisan support from 35 Democrats and 24 Republicans. And, while this was a clear majority of the Senate, it failed to clear the required 60 vote hurdle. However, it has been reported that key senators who would have supported this amendment were not present for the vote. Rep. Gabbard sought to have the Wyden-Daines Amendment debated and voted on in the House during its consideration of the bill today, which House leadership refused to allow.
 
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an independent oversight body that was established in 2007 as part of Congress’ measures to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The commission called for an executive branch board that would ensure that government efforts to protect American security also protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.
 
Rep. Gabbard previously spearheaded the “Strengthening Privacy, Oversight, and Transparency Act” or “SPOT Act,” a bipartisan, bicameral effort to strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s (PCLOB) authority to play a watchdog role over surveillance conducted for purposes beyond counterterrorism. She later reintroduced the SPOT Act, continuing to fight for real reform of the PATRIOT Act by empowering the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
 
Fighting for the Fourth Amendment
 
She has been recognized as a champion for protecting a free and open internet and civil liberties, earning an A+ rating from Restore The Fourth and Fight for the Future. 
 
Rep. Gabbard has voted against reauthorizations of the USA Freedom Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), noting that reforms did not go far enough to protect Americans’ civil liberties. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and introduced legislation to increase transparency and accountability by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). 
 
In 2018, Rep. Gabbard spoke on the House floor urging Congress to adopt a bipartisan amendment to the bill that she helped introduce that would reform Section 702, allowing foreign intelligence collection to continue, while protecting Americans’ constitutional rights and civil liberties by requiring due process and warrants. The amendment included her Preventing Unconstitutional Collection Act (H.R.2588), introduced the previous year. The USA Rights Amendment, which was supported by the ACLU, FreedomWorks, NAACP, Campaign for Liberty, and others, failed by a vote of 183-233.
 
She is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital age. 
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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