Schiff unveils NSA metadata reform bill

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would restructure the National Security Agency’s phone metadata surveillance program. 

Schiff, a senior member on the House Intelligence Committee, unveiled the “Telephone Metadata Reform Act,” which would require the government to request records from phone companies on a case-by-case basis. 

This proposal, the congressman says, reflects what a panel has advised President Obama to do on NSA reforms.

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“For a long time, I’ve been pushing to have the call records held by phone companies and 'queried' on a case-by-case basis, instead of the government’s collecting vast amounts of domestic phone records,” Schiff said in a statement.

Schiff was one of several lawmakers who attended a meeting at the White House last week to discuss possible agency reforms with Obama.

“My legislation would restore the balance between security and privacy by allowing law enforcement and the intelligence community to access records when needed, but also respecting the privacy of Americans by ending government possession of these vast databases.”

The bill’s introduction, however, comes just a day after Schiff acknowledged it would be difficult for Congress to pass NSA reforms. Some lawmakers say its surveillance operations violate privacy, while others credit the program with thwarting terrorist plots.

Instead, Schiff urged Obama to use as much executive power as possible to reform the intelligence-gathering agency because Congress likely can’t.

MSNBC host Chuck Todd asked Schiff on the “The Daily Rundown” Monday whether Congress could reach an agreement on the issue.

“Very difficult. Very tall order for a very dysfunctional Congress, which is why I think the president is going to need to go as far as he can through the executive process,” Schiff said. “A lot of these things can be done … the restructuring of the metadata program is a significant part by the executive acting on its own.” 

President Obama is set to announce his proposed reforms on Friday.