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May 24, 2015

Posts in "NSA"

May 18, 2015

McCarthy: No Plans in House to Budge on NSA Curbs

McCarthy, R-Calif., listens as other House GOP leaders speak to reporters following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McCarthy (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a message for Senate Republicans: If they want to extend expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, they aren’t going to do any better than the so-called USA Freedom Act.

The California Republican wouldn’t say whether there was a contingency plan if the Senate doesn’t heed that advice. Full story

May 1, 2015

Immigration Fight Could Return to House This Month

immigration news

Denham will try again to include in this year’s defense bill a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants who serve in the armed forces. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy opened his Friday memo to House members regarding May’s legislative agenda by quoting Steve Jobs and praising Republicans for the victories they’ve overseen in the first 100 days of the 114th Congress.

But GOP success stories may be overshadowed later this month when Republicans again face one of the most politically dangerous and unforgiving issues for the party: immigration. Full story

April 9, 2015

McCarthy Outlines Busy, Maybe Tense, April Work Period

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After a two-week respite, April is shaping up to be a month of long nights, nods to the GOP base and divisions on both sides of the aisle.

That’s according to a memo sent to members Thursday by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.  Full story

June 20, 2014

House Votes to Limit NSA Surveillance on Americans

The House passed Massie's bill late Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House passed Massie’s bill late Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Defying the Obama administration, a bipartisan veto-proof House majority voted to rein in NSA surveillance of Americans late Thursday.

The 293-123 vote on the amendment by libertarian-minded Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., had majority support in both parties, although a number of leaders in both parties and chairmen opposed it. Some 135 Republicans and 158 Democrats backed it.

The amendment would prohibit the National Security Agency and the CIA from placing surveillance backdoors on commercial tech products and prohibit warrantless collection of Americans’ online data. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 12:30 a.m.
Appropriations, NSA

May 22, 2014

House Approves Curbs on NSA Snooping (Updated) (Video)

Rogers (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rogers backed the new NSA rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated May 22, 1:38 p.m. | After a year of global criticism of the reach of American phone and data surveillance programs, the House approved new restrictions Thursday that critics dismissed as watered down.

The USA Freedom Act — backed by Republicans and Democrats and supported by President Barack Obama — would shift the collection and storage of phone metadata from the National Security Agency to private phone companies.

The measure passed 303-121, with critics on both sides of the aisle saying the bill would not do enough to curb potential abuse and provide legislative oversight of intelligence agencies.

Some privacy advocates pulled support for the measure this week, calling it hollow and riddled with loopholes.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who led the battle to end the NSA’s bulk metadata collection last summer and was a co-sponsor of the Freedom Act, posted a lengthy explanation why he was voting against the bill. Full story

April 24, 2014

House Members Push for Open Debate on NSA Snooping

Holt (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bipartisan House members are calling for an open debate when the House takes up legislation later this year dealing with a controversial National Security Agency intelligence gathering program.

Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., a longtime opponent of the NSA program, is gathering signatures on a letter that he plans to send to top House leaders asking that if a bill reauthorizing the program comes to the floor, it comes under an open rule, meaning any member can offer an amendment.

Holt told CQ Roll Call that because opposition to the NSA phone metadata program cuts across ideological, geographical and generational lines, a range of opinions should be debated, rather than just a few preselected amendments.

“What the government, acting through the NSA, has done is treat Americans as suspects first and citizens second,” he said of the program. Full story

April 8, 2014

Sensenbrenner: Intelligence Director Committed Perjury (Video)

During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper’s refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans’ communications had been conducted was perjurious after Clapper appeared to concede the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.

“Director Clapper’s perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.

“I’m really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate,” Holder said. Full story

March 28, 2014

Peter King, Devin Nunes Lead Crowded Field to Succeed Rogers as Intel Chair

king_255_032714

King says he is the clear choice to be the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Within hours of Mike Rogers surprise retirement announcement, the hawks started circling to seize his Intelligence Committee gavel.

GOP Reps. Peter T. King of New York and Devin Nunes of California have expressed interest in the post. Sources say Reps. Jeff Miller of Florida and Mike Pompeo of Kansas are eyeing the gavel as well.

All those candidates would carry on Rogers’ hawkish stance as chairman of the committee, and all are fairly close to Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, relationships that could be a major determining factor if Boehner continues his reign into the 114th Congress, as he has said he will.

Unlike most of the other House panels, the speaker singlehandedly appoints all members of the Intelligence Committee, including its chairman. Not surprisingly, Boehner has stacked the committee with allies, leaving no clear front-runner for the job.

Full story

Judiciary Committee Tries to Assert Jurisdiction on FISA Rewrite

Goodlatte (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Goodlatte is the chairman of the judiciary committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are trying to assert jurisdiction over legislation revamping the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs — days after the bipartisan leadership of the Intelligence Committee outlined its own plan.

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Robert C. Scott, D-Va., issued a cautionary joint statement about President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to end the government’s bulk collection of telephone records and make other changes to intelligence gathering.

Full story

Mike Rogers Retirement Leaves Big Hole in the House

(File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The retirement announcement of Intelligence Chairman Mike J. Rogers Friday morning leaves a big hole for the House — and the Sunday talk show circuit — to fill.

Rogers, who will become a radio talk show host, had become in some ways the face of the intelligence community on television, racking up more Sunday show appearances than any other member of Congress each of the last two years. The telegenic former FBI agent repeatedly defended the National Security Agency against attacks following the avalanche of leaks by Edward Snowden, often taking a harder line than the White House.

Rogers had been a hawk against leaks — at one point suggesting the death penalty should be considered for Chelsea Manning for leaking documents to Wikileaks. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:15 a.m.
NSA

March 26, 2014

Boehner Backs Ending NSA Collection of Bulk Data (Video)

Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday backed for the first time the end of the NSA’s collection of bulk data, expressing support for a bipartisan bill that would reform the way the government engages in domestic surveillance.

The Ohio Republican endorsed a bipartisan bill that would allow private companies to store the telephone metadata, rather than the government. The position is in line with that of President Barack Obama. The Administration unveiled their own proposals to reform the NSA’s surveillance on Tuesday.

Boehner said he expects the House will soon take up the bill, released on Tuesday by bipartisan members of the Intelligence Committee.

“I expect that part of this effort will include the end of the government holding on to bulk data,” Boehner said.

“I’ve long said these programs exist to save Americans’ lives, and they have. And while there are some valid privacy concerns, it would be irresponsible to end these programs before we have a credible alternative,” he said.

January 17, 2014

Boehner: Obama ‘Must Not Allow Politics to Cloud His Judgment’ on NSA

While President Barack Obama is proposing a series of changes to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, Speaker John A. Boehner gave the suggestions a frosty reception and isn’t convinced they are needed.

In a brief statement on Friday afternoon, the Ohio Republican said Obama “must not allow politics to cloud his judgment” in making tweaks to the systems in place to keep Americans safe.

“The House will review any legislative reforms proposed by the administration,” Boehner said, “but we will not erode the operational integrity of critical programs that have helped keep America safe.” Full story

December 30, 2013

The House Year in Review

This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.

But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.

In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.

Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story

November 14, 2013

Boehner Wants NSA Separate From Defense Authorization

Speaker John Boehner spoke to reporters Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bad news for National Security Agency critics who want to use the annual Defense authorization bill to exact changes to the agency’s spying policies: Speaker John A. Boehner doesn’t think the defense measure is an appropriate vehicle for that debate.

“I don’t know that in the National Defense Authorization bill that that issue ought to be done,” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “It ought to be done on its own.”

Boehner teamed up earlier this year with Democratic leadership and the White House to narrowly defeat an amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would have ended the NSA blanket collection of telephone metadata. That amendment was attached to the defense appropriations bill in July after Amash and a band of libertarian-minded Republicans looked poised to vote down the rule governing floor debate for the Pentagon spending bill if they didn’t get a vote on the NSA amendment.

Even though the speaker rarely votes, Boehner voted against the Amash amendment.

On Thursday, the Ohio Republican once again defended the NSA, saying the agency “protects the American people, protects, frankly, our allies around the world.” Full story

November 11, 2013

Sensenbrenner Slams NSA to European Parliament

While many members of Congress took the Veterans Day holiday as an opportunity to walk in a parade or speak at a veterans cemetery, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was in Brussels, testifying before European Parliament about the Patriot Act.

Sensenbrenner, one of the chief authors of the Patriot Act, told the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs that Congress had extended broader powers to the National Security Agency and the executive branch more than a decade ago through the legislation — and the NSA had “abused” that trust.

“I firmly believe the Patriot Act saved lives by strengthening the ability of intelligence agencies to track and stop potential terrorists, but in the past few years, the NSA has weakened, misconstrued and ignored the civil liberty protections we drafted into the law,” Sensenbrenner testified. Full story

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