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A Different Amendment Restricting NSA Spying Was Passed Overwhelmingly by the House – But 'No One Is Talking About It\

"That's the way to reign in a lawless president, by controlling the money."

FILE - This Thursday, June 6, 2013 file photo shows the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. When Edward Snowden - the 29-year-old intelligence contractor whose leak of top-secret documents has exposed sweeping government surveillance programs - went to Arundel High School, the agency regularly sent employees from its nearby black-glass headquarters to tutor struggling math students. Credit: AP

While the most talked-about news out of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday was the defeat of the so-called Amash amendment that would have defunded the NSA's massive data collection program, another amendment related to NSA spying was quietly passed overwhelmingly by lawmakers.

The Pompeo amendment (championed by Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas) passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 409-12. However, "no one is talking about it," Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) told TheBlaze on Thursday.

The amendment that passed is reportedly intended to "ensure none of the funds may be used by the NSA to target a U.S. person or acquire and store the content of a U.S. person's communications, including phone calls and e-mails."

In contrast, the Amash amendment sought to "end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. It would also bar 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."

Culberson told TheBlaze in a phone interview why he supported the Pompeo amendment over the more sweeping amendment authored by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.).

He argued the amendment properly requires that no funds can be used by the NSA to collect or store the content of American citizens' communications data. This includes phone calls and emails. The amendment; however, does not seem to restrict the NSA's ability to continue collecting and storing massive amounts metadata.

The Amash amendment would have prevented the NSA from using any funds to collect any data on persons that are not under investigation.

"This would protect the data of terrorists who are operating sleeper cells in this country and make us vulnerable to future terrorist attacks," Culberson said of the Amash amendment, adding that it "would do nothing to reform the NSA surveillance program and would do nothing to ensure that the privacy of American citizens is protected."

The Pompeo amendment may not fully address privacy advocates' concerns about NSA spying, but those like Culberson feel it's a step in the right direction.

Though President Barack Obama previously assured the nation that "nobody is listening to your phone calls," revelations leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden suggest that the spy agency is, in fact, storing -- though not necessarily accessing the "content" of individuals', including Americans -- communications data.

Here is the exact phrasing of the Pompeo amendment (emphasis added):

None of funds made available by this Act may be used by the National Security Agency to--

(1) conduct an acquisition pursuant to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 for the purpose of targeting a United States person; or

(2) acquire, monitor, or store the contents (as such term is defined in section 2510(8) of title 18, United States Code) of any electronic communication of a United States person from a provider of electronic communication services to the public pursuant to section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

Culberson was highly critical of Snowden, calling him an "idiot" and a "traitor." He also said President Obama and his administration have demonstrated an "utter disregard for the law."

"That's the way to reign in a lawless president," Culberson told TheBlaze, "by controlling the money."

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: U.S. Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) (R) talks with Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Abney Culberson (R-TX) (L) after a hearing before the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee March 5, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images

The Texas congressman said lawmakers also intend to "rewrite" the Patriot Act sometime this fall and lamented the fact that he and other conservatives were fooled into voting for it the first time around. He said lawmakers were led to believe that the government would only be targeting "overseas foreign nationals whose phone calls were routed through the United States," not American citizens.

Culberson said Congress has an opportunity to correct some of the unconstitutional provisions found in the controversial legislation. The only thing Congress is allowed to in an appropriations bill, he explained, is turn the funding "on or off."

Pompeo on Wednesday defended the NSA's domestic surveillance program, saying the "metadata program is carefully designed with program layers of oversight by all three branches of government. This is precisely the way our government ought to operate: with input from Article I and Article 2 and Article III of the United States Constitution."

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. Credit: AP

The Pompeo amendment was added to a $598.3 billion defense spending bill for 2014, which the House ended up passing, 315-109.

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.

TheBlaze has reached out to Rep. Amash and will update this story should he or his office respond.

 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the clarification that the Pompeo amendment does not seem to restrict the NSA's ability to continue collecting and storing individuals' metadata.

Here is the final roll call vote for the Pompeo amendment via the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives:

FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 411
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)

H R 2397      RECORDED VOTE      24-Jul-2013      6:47 PM

AUTHOR(S):  Pompeo of Kansas Amendment No. 99

QUESTION:  On Agreeing to the Amendment

 

Ayes Noes PRES NV
Republican 227 6
Democratic 182 12 6
Independent
TOTALS 409 12   12

 

--- AYES    409 ---

Aderholt

Alexander

Amash

Amodei

Andrews

Bachmann

Bachus

Barber

Barr

Barrow (GA)

Barton

Bass

Benishek

Bentivolio

Bera (CA)

Bilirakis

Bishop (GA)

Bishop (NY)

Bishop (UT)

Black

Blackburn

Blumenauer

Bonamici

Bonner

Boustany

Brady (PA)

Brady (TX)

Braley (IA)

Bridenstine

Brooks (AL)

Brooks (IN)

Broun (GA)

Brown (FL)

Brownley (CA)

Buchanan

Bucshon

Burgess

Butterfield

Calvert

Camp

Cantor

Capito

Capps

Cárdenas

Carney

Carson (IN)

Carter

Cartwright

Cassidy

Castor (FL)

Castro (TX)

Chabot

Chaffetz

Chu

Cicilline

Clarke

Clay

Cleaver

Clyburn

Coffman

Cole

Collins (GA)

Collins (NY)

Conaway

Connolly

Cook

Cooper

Costa

Cotton

Courtney

Cramer

Crawford

Crenshaw

Crowley

Cuellar

Culberson

Cummings

Daines

Davis (CA)

Davis, Danny

Davis, Rodney

DeFazio

DeGette

Delaney

DeLauro

DelBene

Denham

Dent

DeSantis

DesJarlais

Deutch

Diaz-Balart

Dingell

Doggett

Doyle

Duckworth

Duffy

Duncan (SC)

Duncan (TN)

Ellison

Ellmers

Engel

Enyart

Eshoo

Esty

Farenthold

Farr

Fattah

Fincher

Fitzpatrick

Fleischmann

Fleming

Flores

Forbes

Fortenberry

Foster

Foxx

Frankel (FL)

Franks (AZ)

Frelinghuysen

Gabbard

Gallego

Garamendi

Garcia

Gardner

Garrett

Gerlach

Gibbs

Gibson

Gingrey (GA)

Gohmert

Goodlatte

Gosar

Gowdy

Granger

Graves (GA)

Graves (MO)

Grayson

Green, Al

Green, Gene

Griffin (AR)

Griffith (VA)

Grimm

Guthrie

Gutiérrez

Hahn

Hall

Hanabusa

Hanna

Harper

Harris

Hartzler

Hastings (FL)

Hastings (WA)

Heck (NV)

Heck (WA)

Hensarling

Higgins

Himes

Hinojosa

Holding

Hoyer

Hudson

Huelskamp

Huffman

Huizenga (MI)

Hultgren

Hunter

Hurt

Israel

Issa

Jackson Lee

Jeffries

Jenkins

Johnson (GA)

Johnson (OH)

Johnson, E. B.

Johnson, Sam

Jones

Jordan

Joyce

Kaptur

Keating

Kelly (IL)

Kelly (PA)

Kennedy

Kildee

Kilmer

Kind

King (IA)

King (NY)

Kingston

Kinzinger (IL)

Kirkpatrick

Kline

Kuster

Labrador

LaMalfa

Lamborn

Lance

Langevin

Lankford

Larsen (WA)

Larson (CT)

Latham

Latta

Lee (CA)

Levin

Lewis

Lipinski

LoBiondo

Loebsack

Long

Lowenthal

Lowey

Lucas

Luetkemeyer

Lujan Grisham (NM)

Luján, Ben Ray (NM)

Lummis

Lynch

Maffei

Maloney, Carolyn

Maloney, Sean

Marchant

Marino

Massie

Matheson

Matsui

McCarthy (CA)

McCaul

McClintock

McCollum

McDermott

McGovern

McHenry

McIntyre

McKeon

McKinley

McMorris Rodgers

McNerney

Meadows

Meehan

Meeks

Meng

Messer

Mica

Michaud

Miller (FL)

Miller (MI)

Miller, Gary

Miller, George

Moore

Moran

Mullin

Mulvaney

Murphy (FL)

Murphy (PA)

Nadler

Napolitano

Neal

Neugebauer

Noem

Nolan

Nugent

Nunes

Nunnelee

O'Rourke

Olson

Owens

Palazzo

Pascrell

Pastor (AZ)

Paulsen

Payne

Pearce

Pelosi

Perlmutter

Perry

Peters (CA)

Peters (MI)

Peterson

Petri

Pingree (ME)

Pittenger

Pitts

Pocan

Poe (TX)

Pompeo

Posey

Price (GA)

Price (NC)

Quigley

Radel

Rahall

Reed

Reichert

Renacci

Ribble

Rice (SC)

Richmond

Rigell

Roby

Roe (TN)

Rogers (AL)

Rogers (KY)

Rogers (MI)

Rohrabacher

Rooney

Ros-Lehtinen

Roskam

Ross

Rothfus

Roybal-Allard

Royce

Ruiz

Runyan

Ruppersberger

Rush

Ryan (OH)

Ryan (WI)

Salmon

Sánchez, Linda T.

Sanchez, Loretta

Sanford

Sarbanes

Scalise

Schakowsky

Schiff

Schneider

Schrader

Schwartz

Schweikert

Scott (VA)

Scott, Austin

Scott, David

Sensenbrenner

Serrano

Sessions

Sewell (AL)

Shea-Porter

Sherman

Shimkus

Shuster

Simpson

Sinema

Sires

Slaughter

Smith (MO)

Smith (NE)

Smith (NJ)

Smith (TX)

Smith (WA)

Southerland

Speier

Stewart

Stivers

Stockman

Stutzman

Swalwell (CA)

Takano

Terry

Thompson (CA)

Thompson (MS)

Thompson (PA)

Thornberry

Tiberi

Tierney

Tipton

Titus

Tonko

Tsongas

Turner

Upton

Valadao

Van Hollen

Vargas

Veasey

Vela

Velázquez

Visclosky

Wagner

Walberg

Walden

Walorski

Walz

Wasserman Schultz

Waters

Watt

Waxman

Weber (TX)

Webster (FL)

Welch

Wenstrup

Westmoreland

Whitfield

Williams

Wilson (FL)

Wilson (SC)

Wittman

Wolf

Womack

Woodall

Yarmuth

Yoder

Yoho

Young (AK)

Young (FL)

Young (IN)

 

---- NOES    12 ---

 

Becerra

Capuano

Cohen

Conyers

Edwards

Fudge

Grijalva

Holt

Honda

Lofgren

Polis

Rangel

 

--- NOT VOTING    12 ---

Barletta

Beatty

Bustos

Campbell

Coble

Herrera Beutler

Horsford

McCarthy (NY)

Negrete McLeod

Pallone

Rokita

Schock

 


 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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