Round 2 in Amash's offensive on NSA

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) wants to stop the government’s snooping on people’s phone calls any way he can.

The libertarian stalwart filed two amendments to the annual defense spending bill on Monday that would effectively prevent the National Security Agency (NSA) from collecting and storing bulk records about domestic phone calls.

ADVERTISEMENT
The strategy is reminiscent of a nearly successful move last year that came within seven votes of passage shortly after revelations about the NSA emerged from documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

The new measures are meant as a “backstop” in case a more comprehensive NSA reform bill does not get to the House floor this week, according to Amash's chief of staff, Will Adams.

That broader bill, the USA Freedom Act, overcame a major hurdle in recent weeks to win the support of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees. Advocates have worried that the already-compromised bill could be further watered down once it gets to the floor, however, which could threaten some support.

The legislation could be slated for a floor vote this week, but so far no session has been scheduled.

In addition to the Amash amendment, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced two other amendments that would prevent “backdoor” searches through a legal authority that permits spying on foreigners and bar government agencies from requiring tech manufacturers build into their systems ways to bypass encryption.

Those measures and more than 300 others will be under discussion when the Rules Committee meets Tuesday afternoon to consider how to move forward with the military spending legislation.