President Trump is looming as a wild card in the Senate’s fight over reauthorizing three lapsed surveillance programs.
Trump, who has repeatedly lashed out that his 2016 campaign was “spied” upon, has not said if he will sign the House-passed bill, which would pair reauthorization of the three lapsed parts of the USA Freedom Act with some reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.
The Senate is expected to vote on a handful of amendments to the House bill as soon as Wednesday, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies hoping to prevent additional changes.
But GOP senators acknowledge that they are in the dark about whether Trump would support the House bill.
“Whether or not he’ll actually get involved … that’s the real question on this, and I don’t know how it will come down,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who wants to make changes to the House bill, told reporters during a conference call.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell and a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, said he had not heard what Trump will do.
“I have not heard what the president’s intentions are. I know that the House version that we are voting on … has been something negotiated with the Justice Department,” Cornyn said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump’s, said he also didn’t know if Trump would support it.
“It would be very helpful” if Trump took a position, Graham added.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about whether Trump would sign the bill if it were to reach his desk in its current form, or whether he would support any of the amendments expected to get a vote on the Senate floor.
The Senate’s debate comes at a politically precarious moment: Trump has publicly fumed over the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The Justice Department last week decided to drop its case against Flynn.