Senate Dems introduce NSA amendment

Senate Democrats filed an amendment to the national defense bill Wednesday that would require more transparency on national surveillance programs.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.), Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.) and Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree Clinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions MORE (D-Md.) introduced the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes more than $625 billion in defense spending for the Pentagon.

Wyden said their amendment would require the administration to respond to unanswered questions from lawmakers about the domestic surveillance program that collected phone data on U.S. citizens. He said the amendment would also make public decisions by the “secret court” that approves data collection under the National Surveillance Act (NSA) programs.

Udall and Wyden said they were using the amendment to “jump start” debate on the larger issue and legislation that’s been introduced since reports leaked NSA privacy violations. They said their amendment was needed because the public trust has been “eroded.”

Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence MORE (D-Mich.) asked lawmakers to withhold from introducing NSA-related amendment to NDAA because the issue is so massive and controversial.

Lawmakers are rushing to complete work on the bill by Thanksgiving so that House and Senate conferees would have time to report back to both chambers before the end of the year. Congress has passed an NDAA bill for 51 straight years.

The bill also gives an across the board 1 percent pay raise for services members, establishes protections for victims of sexual assault and allows the transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees to the United States for trial or foreign countries.