House Rejects Bid to Curtail NSA Phone Call Collection
(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan amendment to gut a program that allows the National Security Agency to collect the phone records of millions of Americans went down to defeat on Wednesday. It took a slightly larger group of Republicans and Democrats to turn back the effort that they claimed would have seriously compromised national security.
The final vote was 205-for and 217-against, with 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats supporting the amendment attached to the military-spending bill and 83 Democrats joining 134 Republicans to cast no votes.
Had the measure sponsored by Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash been successful, funding for the NSA program would only have been used for collecting phone records of people under investigation.
Currently, the government is gathering the phone data of millions of Americans although the NSA insists it doesn’t listen in on actual calls.
This information came to light when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified intelligence to The Guardian and The Washington Post.
When it became obvious that the vote on the amendment was too close for comfort, the White House banded with House members on the intelligence panel to convince lawmakers on the fence that the program was essential to fighting terrorism.
Amash had a political heavyweight on his side, Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner, who had written the law that led to current NSA practices.
Sensenbrenner said that the Amash measure would not seriously hamper the NSA's capabilities while arguing that his original intent was not to create such a vast data-gathering program.
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