House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) called a recent attempt to halt NSA gathering of phone data "dangerous."
The House narrowly rejected an amendment Wednesday from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), that would have stripped funding for the program, which has come under heavy scrutiny.
Rogers on Sunday defended the program, calling it a "real success," and said halting it could expose the U.S. to future terror attacks.
"What you're doing is taking away the one tool that we know will allow us the nexus between a foreign terrorist overseas talking to someone in the United States," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "It has saved real lives, real folks have come home with their legs…because of this program."
"The day before the vote, people were asking how many of the numbers have recordings," he said. "They were conflating all of those other problems with this particular problem.
"There's more information in a phone book than there is in this particular big pile of phone numbers," he added.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), though, argued on the same show that the program was in need of serious reform.
"The NSA is literally collecting every phone record of every American every day," he said. "When we collect in bulk all of these records of Americans' phone calls, we're not necessarily being any more effective."
Udall is pushing legislation that would require the NSA to explain why records it is seeking are relevant to an authorized investigation.