The House of Representatives voted against an amendment that would have severely limited the National Security Agency’s ability to collect data on telephone communications by a 205-217 vote.
The amendment would have barred the NSA from blanket collection of records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, including telephone records, “that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.” It was co-sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a libertarian Republican, and John Conyers (D-Mich.).
It was targeted at the first part of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in disclosures to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.
Amash and Conyers’ amendment faced incredible odds, as both sides of the House leadership opposed including it in 2014 defence Appropriations Bill. The White House blasted it in a terse statement Tuesday evening, and the NSA held top-secret briefings to lobby members of Congress against it.
Democrats voted more in line with Amash, while Republicans sided with the opposition. By a 111-83 count, Democrats voted to adopt the amendment. Republicans voted against it by a 94-134 tally.
The vote on the Amash amendment followed a spirited debate in which a fellow Michigan Republican, Mike Rogers, accused Amash of engaging in this debate for “Facebook likes.”
The debate prompted unlikely alliances in the House floor, with both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and deeply conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) voicing opposition to the amendment.
“When you had the chance to stand up for American’s privacy, did you?” Amash said in closing the debate on the House floor.
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