Weekly Newsletter: April 17, 2024

Apr 17, 2024

Many of you have asked how I voted regarding FISA. The short version is that I voted in SUPPORT of American privacy rights and AGAINST warrantless surveillance of citizens.

My view is simple: if the government wants to surveil a US citizen, they should get a warrant. This should not be negotiable.

Remember, the current 702 FISA system, the government can surveil an American citizens’ electronic communications including emails, texts, phone calls, and cell phone data without a warrant under the guise of combating terrorist threats.

The federal government has a history of abusing this controversial law to surveil Americans’ private communications and target political opponents. Here’s what the intelligence agencies got away with in 2021 alone using FISA:

• 3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans’ private communications.
• 278,000 improper searches on American citizens.
• 19,000 improper searches of donors to a Congressional candidate.

Earlier this Congress, the Judiciary Committee had released a version of FISA reauthorization containing strong reforms to the process, including the requirement for a warrant before surveillance, but House leadership stepped in and replaced the bill with a version maintaining authority for warrantless searches. This was in spite of the fact that FISA reauthorization is under the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, on a vote for reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) this last week, we came up one vote short on a key amendment from Andy Biggs that would’ve required a warrant. This was deeply disappointing and a poor reflection on our government.

My view is that our first job in Congress is to protect your individual liberties from government intrusion. Allowing for warrantless spying on American citizens is a grave violation of those liberties. This fight is not over, and you can rest assured that I will continue to protect Americans’ freedoms and oppose any attempts to continue the status quo of spying on Americans.

Congressman Cloud praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

I wanted to give you an update on the latest with the war in the Middle East, as my office is monitoring the situation closely.

As I’m sure you’ve seen in the news, Israel came under attack this past weekend when Iran launched a full out attack — including hundreds of kamikaze drones and ballistic missiles. Thankfully, all but a few rockets were shot down and the damage was minimal. At the same time, this was a brazen attack and a drastic escalation in an already tense region, and we must stand with Israel against Iranian aggression.

As always, the most important thing we need to do is pray for peace, and pray that the Lord would soften the hearts and minds of those who seem so bent on evil. We never want to see any innocent civilians hurt.

From a policy standpoint, it’s clear the Biden administration’s weak foreign policy has thrown the world into chaos. They’ve emboldened our enemies, isolated our allies, and perhaps most importantly, they have weakened the U.S. with horrible domestic policy that puts our country at a grave security risk at home even as all of this happens overseas. Remember, a strong America promotes peace abroad —which is why we’ve been focused on things like securing the southern border. If America is weak, it puts our allies in serious danger too.

Instead of backing away from our ally Israel and appeasing Iran with relief from sanctions (as the Biden administration has attempted to do), we should pursue a strategy of strategic deterrence, which was a priority under former President Trump. Until we do so, the threat of escalation will continue to grow.

In the meantime, the House will be voting on a myriad of bills this week to help counter Iranian aggression. As always, I am committed to standing with Israel.

Last week, in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I questioned the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas regarding the gross mismanagement of our border.

In one particular exchange, I got a chance to press Mayorkas on what authorities – if any – Congress had removed from President Biden or the DHS since President Trump left office and the Biden administration took over. Mayorkas repeatedly refused to answer, to the point where I finally had to remind him: Congress has removed NONE of the border authorities that existed before President Biden.

This was to highlight the fact that the issue is not President Biden’s lack of authority – and in fact, Biden not only has the same authority President Trump had, but Biden even has more border security resources available to him than President Trump did. Despite having a larger budget than the Trump administration, the White House claims that they do not have the resources — or authority — to secure the border. This would be laughable if it did not have such disastrous consequences for our nation.

Under the Biden/Mayorkas regime, the border crisis has gone from a major concern to a full-on invasion of our country. In the past three and a half years there have been about 10 million known border crossings, many of whom are military-age males from adversarial countries like China. Yet, instead of trying to put an end to this crisis, the Biden administration has turned our border patrol into processing agents. The top priority for the Department of Homeland Security should be protecting the homeland — not facilitating an invasion. They have turned border security into border processing, and that is wholly unacceptable.

You couldn’t have better laid out a case for why the House impeached this man. At this point, the Senate should immediately take up the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas without waiting a day longer.

Watch my questioning of Secretary Mayorkas HERE.

During an Oversight hearing on Thursday, I pressed the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on what he plans to do about the growing conflict of interest concerns within the FDA.

In the past few years, numerous FDA officials have left to take high-paying jobs at pharmaceutical companies they were previously in charge of regulating. This pipeline from the FDA to big pharma presents a major ethical dilemma — FDA officials may show favorable treatment towards the companies they regulate, anticipating lucrative positions upon leaving public service. At a time when trust in government institutions is already historically low, we must ensure government officials execute the law fairly, and this clear conflict of interest undermines that trust. I will continue to prioritize accountability in the government as a primary focus of my work in Congress.

You can watch my questioning of the FDA commissioner HERE.

This past weekend marked a historic day in South Texas history — the Bicentennial of the City of Victoria! As a long time resident, I could not be more proud of my community and it was a joy to help celebrate with friends.

One of my favorite parts of Victoria’s history is how the original founders wanted to foster a sense of community – seeking to build their city around the idea of helping residents build relationships with one another. That theme is very evident today, and if you’ve ever been to Victoria, you know. It’s been a treat to watch the city grow over the years and how it embodies that same spirit, providing a thriving environment for small businesses, ranchers, the agriculture community, churches, and many others.

What a wonderful occasion. As Texans, we have a great deal to be proud of, and Victoria is among them.

Congratulations again to everyone in Victoria, and may God continue to bless and keep us in the days and years ahead.

God Bless,

Michael Cloud
Member of Congress

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