NSA Data Center

This June 6, 2013, photo, shows an aerial view of the NSA’s Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. (Photo: AP/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — The House narrowly rejected a challenge to the National Security Agency’s secret collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records Wednesday night after a fierce debate pitting privacy rights against the government’s efforts to thwart terrorism.

The vote was 217-205 on an issue that created unusual political coalitions in Washington, with libertarian-leaning conservatives and liberal Democrats pressing for the change against the Obama administration, the Republican establishment and Congress’ national security experts.

The final vote tally shown on C-SPAN was 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats in favor, and 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats opposed.

(Scroll down to see the full roll call vote)

The showdown vote marked the first chance for lawmakers to take a stand on the secret surveillance program since former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden leaked classified documents last month that spelled out the monumental scope of the government’s activities.

It is unlikely to be the final word on government intrusion to defend the nation and Americans’ civil liberties.

“Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on Sept. 11?” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) chairman of the Intelligence committee, said in pleading with his colleagues to back the program during House debate.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, chief sponsor of the repeal effort, said his aim was to end the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ phone records.

House Rejects Amendment to Defund NSA Program That Collects Massive Amounts of Americans Phone Records

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., leaves his office to walk to the House of Representatives where his amendment to the Defense spending bill would cut funding to the National Security Agency’s program that collects the phone records U.S. citizens and residents, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. The White House and congressional backers of the NSA’s electronic surveillance program are warning that ending the massive collection of phone records from millions of Americans would put the nation at risk from another terrorist attack. Credit: AP

His measure, offered as an addition to a $598.3 billion defense spending bill for 2014, would have canceled the statutory authority for the NSA program, ending the agency’s ability to collect phone records and metadata under the USA Patriot Act unless it identified an individual under investigation.

The House later voted to pass the overall defense bill, 315-109.

Amash told the House that his effort was to defend the Constitution and “defend the privacy of every American.”

The unusual political coalitions were on full display during a spirited but brief House debate.

“Let us not deal in false narratives. Let’s deal in facts that will keep Americans safe,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) a member of the Intelligence committee who implored her colleagues to back a program that she argued was vital in combatting terrorism.

But Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) a senior member of the Judiciary Committee who helped write the Patriot Act, insisted “the time has come” to stop the collection of phone records.

Several Republicans acknowledged the difficulty in balancing civil liberties against national security, but expressed suspicion about the Obama administration’s implementation of the NSA programs – and anger at Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Right now the balancing is being done by people we do not know. People who lied to this body,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).

He was referring to Clapper who admitted he gave misleading statements to Congress on how much the U.S. spies on Americans. Clapper apologized to lawmakers earlier this month after saying in March that the U.S. does not gather data on citizens – something that Snowden revealed as false by releasing documents showing the NSA collects millions of phone records.

With a flurry of letters, statements and tweets, both sides lobbied furiously in the hours prior to the vote in the Republican-controlled House. In a last-minute statement, Clapper warned against dismantling a critical intelligence tool.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Congress has authorized – and a Republican and a Democratic president have signed – extensions of the powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists.

Two years ago, in a strong bipartisan statement, the Senate voted 72-23 to renew the Patriot Act and the House backed the extension 250-153.

Since the disclosures this year, however, lawmakers have said they were shocked by the scope of the two programs – one to collect records of hundreds of millions of calls and the other allowing the NSA to sweep up Internet usage data from around the world that goes through nine major U.S.-based providers.

Although Republican leaders agreed to a vote on the Amash amendment, one of 100 to the defense spending bill, time for debate was limited to 15 minutes out of the two days the House dedicated to the overall legislation.

The White House and the director of the NSA, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, made last-minute appeals to lawmakers, urging them to oppose the amendment. Rogers and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, implored their colleagues to back the NSA program.

Eight former attorneys general, CIA directors and national security experts wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the two programs are fully authorized by law and “conducted in a manner that appropriately respects the privacy and civil liberties interests of Americans.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney issued an unusual, nighttime statement on the eve of Wednesday’s vote, arguing that the change would “hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools.”

Proponents of the NSA programs argue that the surveillance operations have been successful in thwarting at least 50 terror plots across 20 countries, including 10 to 12 directed at the United States. Among them was a 2009 plot to strike at the New York Stock Exchange.

Rogers joined six GOP committee chairmen in a letter urging lawmakers to reject the Amash amendment.

“While many members have legitimate questions about the NSA metadata program, including whether there are sufficient protections for Americans’ civil liberties,” the chairman wrote, “eliminating this program altogether without careful deliberation would not reflect our duty, under Article I of the Constitution, to provide for the common defense.”

The overall defense spending bill would provide the Pentagon with $512.5 billion for weapons, personnel, aircraft and ships plus $85.8 billion for the war in Afghanistan for the next budget year.

The total, which is $5.1 billion below current spending, has drawn a veto threat from the White House, which argues that it would force the administration to cut education, health research and other domestic programs in order to boost spending for the Pentagon.

In a leap of faith, the bill assumes that Congress and the administration will resolve the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that have led the Pentagon to furlough workers and cut back on training. The bill projects spending in the next fiscal year at $28.1 billion above the so-called sequester level.

Here’s how House members voted via the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives (Find your representative here):

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 412
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)

H R 2397 RECORDED VOTE 24-Jul-2013 6:51 PM
AUTHOR(S): Amash of Michigan Amendment No. 100
QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Amendment

 

Ayes Noes PRES NV
Republican 94 134 6
Democratic 111 83 6
Independent
TOTALS 205 217 12

— AYES 205 —

Amash
Amodei
Bachus
Barton
Bass
Becerra
Bentivolio
Bishop (UT)
Black
Blackburn
Blumenauer
Bonamici
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Bridenstine
Broun (GA)
Buchanan
Burgess
Capps
Capuano
Cárdenas
Carson (IN)
Cartwright
Cassidy
Chabot
Chaffetz
Chu
Cicilline
Clarke
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coffman
Cohen
Connolly
Conyers
Courtney
Cramer
Crowley
Cummings
Daines
Davis, Danny
Davis, Rodney
DeFazio
DeGette
DeLauro
DelBene
DeSantis
DesJarlais
Deutch
Dingell
Doggett
Doyle
Duffy
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Edwards
Ellison
Eshoo
Farenthold
Farr
Fattah
Fincher
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Fleming
Fudge
Gabbard
Garamendi
Gardner
Garrett
Gibson
Gohmert
Gosar
Gowdy
Graves (GA)
Grayson
Green, Gene
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Grijalva
Hahn
Hall
Harris
Hastings (FL)
Holt
Honda
Huelskamp
Huffman
Huizenga (MI)
Hultgren
Jeffries
Jenkins
Johnson (OH)
Jones
Jordan
Keating
Kildee
Kingston
Labrador
LaMalfa
Lamborn
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis
Loebsack
Lofgren
Lowenthal
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Lummis
Lynch
Maffei
Maloney, Carolyn
Marchant
Massie
Matsui
McClintock
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McHenry
McMorris Rodgers
Meadows
Mica
Michaud
Miller, Gary
Miller, George
Moore
Moran
Mullin
Mulvaney
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal
Nolan
Nugent
O’Rourke
Owens
Pascrell
Pastor (AZ)
Pearce
Perlmutter
Perry
Petri
Pingree (ME)
Pocan
Poe (TX)
Polis
Posey
Price (GA)
Radel
Rahall
Rangel
Ribble
Rice (SC)
Richmond
Roe (TN)
Rohrabacher
Ross
Rothfus
Roybal-Allard
Rush
Salmon
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sanford
Sarbanes
Scalise
Schiff
Schrader
Schweikert
Scott (VA)
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Shea-Porter
Sherman
Smith (MO)
Smith (NJ)
Southerland
Speier
Stewart
Stockman
Swalwell (CA)
Takano
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Tierney
Tipton
Tonko
Tsongas
Vela
Velázquez
Walz
Waters
Watt
Waxman
Weber (TX)
Welch
Williams
Wilson (SC)
Yarmuth
Yoder
Yoho
Young (AK)

 

— NOES 217 —

Aderholt
Alexander
Andrews
Bachmann
Barber
Barr
Barrow (GA)
Benishek
Bera (CA)
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Boehner
Bonner
Boustany
Brady (TX)
Brooks (AL)
Brooks (IN)
Brown (FL)
Brownley (CA)
Bucshon
Butterfield
Calvert
Camp
Cantor
Capito
Carney
Carter
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Cole
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Conaway
Cook
Cooper
Costa
Cotton
Crawford
Crenshaw
Cuellar
Culberson
Davis (CA)
Delaney
Denham
Dent
Diaz-Balart
Duckworth
Ellmers
Engel
Enyart
Esty
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foster
Foxx
Frankel (FL)
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gallego
Garcia
Gerlach
Gibbs
Gingrey (GA)
Goodlatte
Granger
Graves (MO)
Green, Al
Grimm
Guthrie
Gutiérrez
Hanabusa
Hanna
Harper
Hartzler
Hastings (WA)
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Hensarling
Higgins
Himes
Hinojosa
Holding
Hoyer
Hudson
Hunter
Hurt
Israel
Issa
Jackson Lee
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Johnson, Sam
Joyce
Kaptur
Kelly (IL)
Kelly (PA)
Kennedy
Kilmer
Kind
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Kirkpatrick
Kline
Kuster
Lance
Langevin
Lankford
Larsen (WA)
Latham
Latta
Levin
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Long
Lowey
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Maloney, Sean
Marino
Matheson
McCarthy (CA)
McCaul
McIntyre
McKeon
McKinley
McNerney
Meehan
Meeks
Meng
Messer
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Neugebauer
Noem
Nunes
Nunnelee
Olson
Palazzo
Paulsen
Payne
Pelosi
Peters (CA)
Peters (MI)
Peterson
Pittenger
Pitts
Pompeo
Price (NC)
Quigley
Reed
Reichert
Renacci
Rigell
Roby
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Rooney
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Royce
Ruiz
Runyan
Ruppersberger
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Schakowsky
Schneider
Schwartz
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sessions
Sewell (AL)
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Sinema
Sires
Slaughter
Smith (NE)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Stivers
Stutzman
Terry
Thompson (CA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Titus
Turner
Upton
Valadao
Van Hollen
Vargas
Veasey
Visclosky
Wagner
Walberg
Walden
Walorski
Wasserman Schultz
Webster (FL)
Wenstrup
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Wilson (FL)
Wittman
Wolf
Womack
Woodall
Young (FL)
Young (IN)

 

— NOT VOTING 12 —

Barletta
Beatty
Bustos
Campbell
Coble
Herrera Beutler
Horsford
McCarthy (NY)
Negrete McLeod
Pallone
Rokita
Schock

 


 

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