Wyden: Talks on NSA overhaul 'accelerated' after House vote

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) vowed to press ahead with bipartisan talks about reining in the National Security Agency's (NSA) data collections.

Wyden said this week's close House vote on an NSA amendment had emboldened Senate critics of the NSA's widespread collection of Americans' phone records.

"The discussions certainly have accelerated since that extraordinary House vote … You are going to see a very strong and bipartisan effort in the Senate to pick up on the work of the House"" Wyden said in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program set to air Sunday.

The House narrowly defeated an amendment this past week that would have cut off funding for the NSA's surveillance program. The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), failed 205-217.

It gained the support of 111 Democrats and 94 Republicans, which supporters heralded as a strong show of bipartisan support despite the amendment's ultimate failure.

Wyden said the vote shows that the country is rapidly coming around to oppose the NSA's program, under which the agency collects meta-data on most Americans' phone calls.

"To just have this dragnet surveillance, where you vacuum up every one of the phone records — who people called, when they called, where they called from — on millions and millions of law-abiding Americans, I think will become increasingly unpopular," Wyden said.

Wyden is working with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) on proposals to amend the Patriot Act and stop the NSA from collecting phone records on all Americans. He said there is bipartisan interest in the Senate in limiting the scope of electronic surveillance.

"I am definitely working with Democrats and Republicans to overhaul this program dramatically," Wyden said.

Wyden said he would not insist on any specific vehicle for his proposal.

He also declined to take a position on various proposals to reshape secret courts under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Some lawmakers have proposed requiring Senate confirmation for judges to sit on the FISA court or otherwise curtailing the Supreme Court chief justice's ability to fill the court basically on his own.

Wyden would not endorse specific FISA proposals, but did say some of the court's practices are "just anachronistic."

More in News

Republicans slam Obama's 'rant' on guns

Read more »