By Julian Hattem - 05/26/15 06:16 PM EDT
Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDozens of GOP lawmakers staying away from Trump's convention House uprising thwarts change to Patriot Act GOP angst grows over Trump MORE (R-Mich.) doesn’t seem to trust that House leaders won’t try to sneak through a short-term renewal of expiring Patriot Act provisions while the chamber is on recess this week.
Amash, a vocal surveillance critic, attended the House’s usually empty pro forma session Tuesday, seemingly to make sure he is able to object in case GOP leaders try and go behind lawmakers’ backs.
His presence comes as a sign of heavy concern that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will use a voice vote to slip through a temporary extension of expiring parts of the Patriot Act. Leadership aides have said the Speaker would not use the procedural maneuver to skirt the House's will, but Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) — another prominent spy critic — told The Hill last week he was not as sure.
“Trust, but verify,” Amash tweeted after the Tuesday session, quoting former President Ronald Reagan’s signature phrase.
The Senate is in a bind over how to reauthorize the expiring counterterrorism provisions, which the National Security Agency (NSA) has used to run controversial data collection programs. Over the weekend, the Senate failed to pass the USA Freedom Act after it sailed through the House, 338-88, and some lawmakers have suggested Boehner would force the House to push the June 1 deadline back a few days to prevent the law from expiring.
Both Amash and Massie took up space on the Senate floor during the upper chamber’s frenzied voting late Friday night, and could be seen repeatedly huddling with likeminded Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who stood as an obstacle to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) plans for a “clean” short-term extension.
The House members’ presence at the Senate votes caused many watchers to speculate they would spend the week in Washington to keep an eye on the House.
Usually, pro forma sessions are considered mere formalities.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), whose district lies about an hour from Washington, presided over Tuesday’s five-minute-long session to run through a few procedural hoops.
The House will return for another pro forma session Friday morning.