An amendment designed to stop the NSA from collecting phone records of millions of Americans has been narrowly defeated, 205 votes to 217, in the House of Representatives. The amendment, attached to an annual defence budget bill, was led by Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and sought to defund the NSA’s collection of phone records.
Clearly, given the close vote, the effort — which only passed the House Rules Committee on Monday — had found favour among congress. Just not enough to pass.
Understandably, it shaken the Obama administration, and the resulting discussion on the House floor is the first on the issue since the NSA news first broke, reports Verge. Many spoke out, but Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) got it bang on: “The NSA’s interpretation is that all data is relevant all the time. That is simply wrong.”
Defenders, obviously, responded with familiar arguments: that the NSA’s work is an essential tool which saves American lives. Rep. Joe Cotton (R-AR) even went as far as calling the NSA accumulated metadata “an excel spreadsheet with five columns.” Just, uh, quite important columns, Joe.
Clearly, while this amendment failed, there’s a hunger in at least some of the house to change the way the NSA goes about capturing and storing data. It’s hopefully just a matter of time before some capitalises on that. [Roll Call via Verge]