The House Rules Committee late Monday approved a rule for the 2014 Defense Department spending bill that will allow votes on controversial amendments dealing with Syria, Egypt and the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans.
House GOP leaders had hoped to set up a rule that disallowed votes on these issues and keep the spending bill free of controversy. But after several delayed meetings, the House Rules Committee ultimately decided to allow consideration of these amendments, which are among the 100 amendments to the bill that will be considered this week.
The second one, from Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), would end the authority the NSA has under the Patriot Act from collecting any communications records from people who are not subject to an investigation under that law.
Both amendments are a reaction to news made earlier this year that the NSA was collecting billions of phone and email records from American citizens, even those not subject to an investigation.
On Syria, the House will get a vote on language from Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.). His amendment would block funding for military action in Syria if it's inconsistent with the War Powers Resolution.
And on Egypt, members will get a vote on a proposal from Reps. Tom Massie (R-Ky.) and Amash to block any funding of military or paramilitary operations in Egypt.
Earlier in the day, in one of several attempts to influence Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to open the bill to amendments, a group of 11 conservative organizations -- including Taxpayers for Common Sense, Americans for Tax Reform and Club for Growth -- wrote Boehner a letter, calling on him to keep the Defense Appropriations subcommittee's bill open to all amendments when it hits the floor.
The fiscal conservative groups did not mention the NSA or Syria in their letter to Boehner. Instead, they said that the Defense spending bill is the largest of the appropriations bill, arguing that “taxpayers deserve an open rule.”
The group added that restricting amendments would break with Boehner’s pledge to follow regular order and allow open debate.
Members of the House are expected to pass the rule for the spending bill in the early afternoon Tuesday, and then proceed to debate and consideration of the 100 amendments made in order.
The structured rule for the spending bill is a deviation from the way rules are normally approved for spending bills. Members are usually able to propose any germane amendment to these spending bills.
A list of all active amendments can be found here.
Jeremy Herb contributed.