News Release

Bill to Cut NSA Funding Narrowly Fails, Sparks Rare Congressional Debate

The New York Times reports on an amendment put forward by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.): “A deeply divided House defeated legislation Wednesday that would have blocked the National Security Agency from collecting vast amounts of phone records, handing the Obama administration a hard-fought victory in the first Congressional showdown over the N.S.A.’s surveillance activities since Edward J. Snowden’s security breaches last month.

“The 205-to-217 vote was far closer than expected and came after a brief but impassioned debate over citizens’ right to privacy and the steps the government must take to protect national security. It was a rare instance in which a classified intelligence program was openly discussed on the House floor, and disagreements over the program led to some unusual coalitions.

“Conservative Republicans leery of what they see as Obama administration abuses of power teamed up with liberal Democrats long opposed to intrusive intelligence programs. The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership to try to block it.” See also Politico: “Amash prevails as amendment fails.”

NATHAN WHITE, nathandavidwhite at gmail.com, @NathanielDWhite
White is with Restore the Fourth, a group that seeks to raise awareness of unconstitutional surveillance.

SHAHID BUTTAR, media at bordc.org, @bordc
Buttar is executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He said today: “Given the combined opposition of the GOP leadership in the House and the Democratic establishment in the White House, it is remarkable that a band of conscientious members of Congress could find common cause across the partisan aisle and nearly win a surprise vote to de-fund the NSA through the defense appropriations process. With members of Congress poised to hear widespread concerns from their constituents during the upcoming August recess, the battle over dragnet spying is far from over. Indeed, for the first time in a decade, America and our Constitution have gained the upper hand on the military-intelligence-industrial complex.”