On Wednesday, Congress almost passed an amendment intended to put a stop to NSA telecommunications surveillance practices. The amendment was just barely shot down by a 205-217 vote, which was populated by democrats and republicans on both sides.
On Monday, a surprise vote by the House Rules Committee rendered a proposed amendment to be “in order”, thus bringing it to the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The amendment, which was sponsored by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and co-sponsored by John Conyers (D-MI), was intended to put a stop to unwarranted collection of telecommunications data by the government. The summary of the amendment reads:
“Ends authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. Bars the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.”
Had the Internet been present at the vote, the amendment would undoubtedly have been passed. But sadly, the Internet was not invited, and the amendment was very narrowly razed in a 205-217 vote.
While issues in the United States are often divided in a very symmetrical fashion, this case is peculiar in that it was not clearly affected by political parties, since plenty of liberals and conservatives populated either side of the vote. In the House’s final roll call, supporters of the amendment included 94 Republicans and 111 democrats.
The vote on Wednesday was preceded by an hour of debate, during which time Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who wrote the original Patriot Act, spoke in favor of the amendment, explaining that NSA practices had gone far beyond his original vision.
Even though the amendment did not pass, many people are seeing the attempted measure, and it’s number of supporters in Congress as an encouraging step towards altering U.S government data collection practices.
Demand Progress’s David Segal wrote in an e-mailed statement:
“While ultimately not successful, this vote showed that more than 200 members of Congress—including the author of the Patriot Act—oppose these programs. These programs barely survived after a full court lobbying campaign by the White House, the Intelligence community, and the NSA proper. Today’s vote shows that the tide is turning.”
Source: Ars Technica