NSA Can Keep Snooping After Close House Vote

Amendment would have stopped the collection of phone records

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 24, 2013 6:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – The NSA can keep collecting the phone records of Americans, but the surveillance program just barely survived a bipartisan effort to rein it in, reports the Hill. An amendment by Michigan Republican Justin Amash would have prevented the agency from gathering data under the program revealed by Edward Snowden, but the measure failed by 12 votes after heavy pressure from the White House. Despite that pressure, 111 Democrats voted with Amash to curtail the program. The vote united "libertarian-leaning Republicans and liberal Democrats" who were worried about privacy violations, says the Wall Street Journal. It also managed to unite the White House with House Republican leaders for once, notes the New York Times.

Under Amash's proposal, the NSA could collect phone records only if they pertained to an individual who was under investigation. The mass "metadata" gathering would end. The prospect worried the nation's top intelligence officials, who made last-minute pleas to lawmakers to keep the tool in place. White House spokesman Jay Carney even made what the Hill calls a rare evening statement before the vote calling the amendment misguided.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. walks through a basement tunnel to the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill Wednesday. His amendment to curb NSA powers failed, but it was close.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. walks through a basement tunnel to the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill Wednesday. His amendment to curb NSA powers failed, but it was close.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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