Cantor victor strikes different tone on NSA

The Tea Party challenger who defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Tuesday evening differs sharply from his opponent on government surveillance.

Economics professor David Brat has been an opponent of surveillance operations at the National Security Agency, and explains on his website that government "abuse of our freedoms has spun out of control."

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"Dave believes that the Constitution does not need to be compromised for matters of national security," he says. "He supports the end of bulk phone and email data collection by the NSA, IRS, or any other branch of government."

In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch published last weekend, he added that the spy agency's collection of Americans' information "is a disturbing violation of our Fourth Amendment right to privacy."

Cantor, on the other hand, has been far more skeptical of calls to severely rein in the NSA.

He opposed an effort by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and John Conyers (R-Mich.) last year to end the agency's bulk collection of records about Americans' phone calls, and in May voted in favor of a surveillance reform bill that many civil liberties advocates said was too watered down.

Cantor's position has been in line with House leadership on both sides of the aisle, but Brat's victory on Tuesday could spell trouble for proponents of that mild type of reform.

The NSA bill passed by the House, called the USA Freedom Act, is currently under debate in the Senate, and a watered down version is likely to meet opposition from Tea Party favorites such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Mark Udall (Colo.).