Freedom Caucus Blasts Barrasso For Supporting Warrantless Surveillance Bill

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus is condemning Sen. John Barrasso for his support of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which continues the federal government’s authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on U.S. citizens.

Leo Wolfson

April 24, 20244 min read

State Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, left, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming.
State Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, left, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

President Joe Biden signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) over the weekend, which extends warrantless government spy powers for another two years.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, supported the legislation, a position that's drawn outrage from the Wyoming Freedom Caucus.

“We are repulsed by Sen. Barrasso’s decision to side with the same FBI that conducts armed pre-dawn raids on peaceful pro-life demonstrators and with the same DOJ (Department of Justice) that has labeled concerned parents 'domestic terrorists,'" the Freedom Caucus said in a statement.

The bill extends Section 702 of FISA, which allows the federal government to gather communications on people living outside and inside the U.S. without a warrant.

Barrasso told Cowboy State Daily he supported the bill because he believes it strengthens law enforcement’s ability to fight terrorism.

“It’s more critical than ever that our law enforcement and intelligence officers have the tools needed to keep Americans safe,” he said Tuesday. "This legislation provides those tools while also making meaningful and needed reforms to prevent the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”


Barrasso was one of 30 Republicans to vote for the bill that passed on a 60-34 vote. Those who voted against the measure included a coalition of senators on the far left and right of their parties, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

​​In the past year, U.S. officials have revealed a series of abuses and mistakes made by the FBI, including unjustly spying on a member of Congress, participants in the racial justice protests of 2020 and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. officials have said the surveillance tool, first authorized in 2008, is crucial in disrupting terrorist attacks, cyber intrusions and foreign espionage, and has also produced valuable intelligence that has led to action, such as the 2022 killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

Barrasso, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, also mentioned the growing trend of domestic terrorist threats he believes the extension will solve, and Biden’s handling of the southern border as contributing to this problem.

“Americans currently face unprecedented and growing threats at home and abroad,” Barrasso said. “Terrorist organizations are growing bolder by the day. Since the Biden border crisis began in 2021, Border Patrol has apprehended more than 300 illegal immigrants on terrorist watch lists. This doesn’t include the 2 million-plus illegal immigrants who ‘got away.’”

There’s also some misconceptions about what Section 702 actually does. Although it allows for warrantless surveillance of foreigners who interact with Americans, it does not allow the government to specifically target Americans.

An amendment that would have required a warrant to search through the communications of Americans as part of data collected while surveilling foreigners died on a tie vote in the House.

Hageman’s Perspective

Fellow Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis voted against the bill, as did U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman. 

Hageman said she supported parts of the bill, but couldn’t stomach the fact that Americans could still be spied on without a warrant, which Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin attempted to address in a failed amendment.

“I land on the side of civil liberties,” Hageman said on C-SPAN earlier this month. “I want to make sure we’re protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens.”

Former President Donald Trump also opposed the bill.

One of the changes conservatives supported made to the bill is that it’s a two-year reauthorization instead of five years, meaning that if Trump wins the presidential election this year, the legislation would be up in time for Trump to overhaul FISA laws next time around.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

Share this article



Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter