Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

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.

Its future in the Senate is unclear, but it’s a sign the House believes a recently passed House bill to roll back the NSA doesn’t go far enough.

The vote came after a spirited, if brief, debate on the House floor.

“The American people can be kept safe and we can follow the Constitution,” Massie said. He said the NSA should have a warrant to access Americans’ information.

And he said the NSA should not spend money to put backdoors into their products.

When the government “causes these companies to intentionally make defects in their product, they make Americans less safe. They make Americans’ data less safe. and they compromise the quality of American goods overseas. But ultimately this is about the Constitution. If you believe in the Constitution, if you believe that it’s still valid, if you think we can honor the fourth amendment and that we can still keep people safe, I urge you to vote for this bill.”

Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., ripped the amendment as something that would help terrorists and endanger national security and undo a carefully negotiated balance the on the earlier bill.

“Islamic radical terrorists are on the march in Iraq and the leader has publicly threatened to attack America,” he said. “Syria has become a vortex of jihadists from across the globe and the director of national intelligence and the director of homeland security have warned of the growing threat jihadists pose to our homeland. …This amendment would create a blind spot for the intelligence community tracking terrorists with direct connections to the U.S. homeland. …Such an impediment would put American lives at risk of another terrorist attack.”

The bill had very unusual bipartisan support.

On the Republican side, newly minted Majority Leader-elect Kevin McCarthy of California voted no as did sitting Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., but newly minted Majority Whip-elect Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted aye.

On the Democratic side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California led the vast majority of her party who voted with Massie, but Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland voted no.

The amendment’s backers cheered afterward.

  • Dmac73

    Maybe they’ll start concentrating on what all the friends of the WH are up to. At home and overseas. We all know who and what groups he deals with.

    • Jack Everett

      Anti American scum like you should be spied on.

      • Richard Einstein

        You are either brain damaged or a paid troll. My guess is brain damaged.

  • Jazzy

    Spirited, and Brief… As in Boehner was smoking American Spirits in his underwear.

    renewui with retro EUC. The E is for Emergency

    • Jazzy

      The U is for Unemployment

      • Jazzy

        And the C is for Compensation

  • Conservative Dem

    Wow, Congress! I am impressed with both sides. Just a quick question, though. Is this going to die in the Senate? And can it still be vetoed even if it manages to pass the Senate? Or was this more of a symbolic vote?

  • Richard Einstein

    The Israeli Lobby is pissed off at 293 congressmen. Too bad they don’t have enough power to defeat them all in the next election even though the jews print trillions out of thin air and own nearly all major media.

    The days of the zionist shadow government are numbered and they know it… expect them to stage a huge false flag very soon to bring in martial law and the zionist police state.

    • erick

      The NSA will find you and kill you.

  • trustandobeyalways

    good, can someone get the NSA to dig up the IRS ‘missing’ emails? and maybe hilary’s ‘missing’ benghazi emails while they’re at it


    Looks like we did the right thing giving Cantor the boot, but McCarthy bailed on us ALREADY ! NO BETTER !

  • Chaz22

    I wish somebody would tell me the pros and cons of this NSA surveillance issue. Right now, I wouldn’t know how to vote.
    There must be a good reason for the NSA doing what they are doing, yet it seems like a real intrusion on our privacy .

  • Harold Hoffman

    Thanks Edward Snowden for
    doing what most people would not do, ruin your life to make everybody
    else aware of what was going on in the US the spying and lying to the
    people. I want to see where this bill ends up, the prrf is the end and it signed into law. How do you think they will get the dirt
    on each other. We have to stop using the big search engines and social
    media for our privacy, I have been using
    the non tracking leave me alone search engine, you should protect
    yourself. This bill was watered down anyway and the senate will water it
    down even more.

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