The House proved earlier this year that it doesn’t care about your privacy when it voted in favor of CISPA yet again. Now the House has cemented the fact that it cares not for your civil liberties.
The Hill reports that the House voted 205-217 against an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash that would have stopped the NSA from collecting Americans’ phone records. The amendment was proposed as an addition to the annual Defense Department spending bill. If it had passed, it would have prevented the NSA from targeting anybody not currently under investigation.
As expected, the Obama administration, pro-NSA members of Congress and the intelligence community would have none of it. They lobbied furiously at the beginning of the week to shoot down the amendment when it became clear that it was headed to the floor for a vote. In short, they argued that a vote for Amash’s amendment would be a vote for terrorism.
Rep. Amash’s amendment wasn’t the only NSA-related amendment being voted on last night though. The House, in a 409-12 vote, approved an amendment from Rep. Mike Pompeo that would prevent the NSA from intentionally targeting Americans. It’s a nice gesture, but the amendment does absolutely nothing as the laws currently in place prevent the same thing. Amash’s amendment would have actually put a stop to the wholesale collection of Americans’ phone records.
Despite the House rejecting Amash’s amendment, the vote was still an important one. It’s the first time Congress has directly voted on the NSA’s spy programs since they were leaked last month by Edward Snowden. It also sets up the next battle against the NSA brewing in both the Senate and the House as lawmakers write up legislation that would either curtail the agency’s actions or make it more transparent. With the knowledge of this vote, opponents of the NSA can now more accurately target those lawmakers who voted in favor of spy agency.