Boehner: It's not the time to use a 'wrecking ball' on NSA bill

Boehner: It's not the time to use a 'wrecking ball' on NSA bill
© Greg Nash

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism GOP leaders strip Steve King of committee assignments MORE (R-Ohio) acknowledged that some Republicans want to tweak a national security bill headed for a vote on the House floor Wednesday but said it's the wrong time to "bring out the wrecking ball."

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The House is poised to pass the USA Freedom Act, which would overhaul the National Security Agency program that collects Americans' phone records in bulk. The legislation also would extend expiring portions of the Patriot Act.

"This is a very delicate issue. I know members would like to offer some amendments but this is not a place for people to bring out the wrecking ball," Boehner told reporters.

On Tuesday night, the House Rules Committee, which is controlled by Boehner allies, blocked efforts by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and other civil-liberties advocates to offer amendments to the bill. But Boehner noted that the underlying bill had broad support and was very similar to one the House passed a year ago with nearly 300 votes.

The White House has signaled support for the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) favors a "clean" reauthorization of the Patriot Act before provisions expire on June 1.

Asked how the House and Senate would resolve their differences, Boehner demurred.

"I'm not going to speculate what the Senate will or will not do," he said. "All I know is that these programs expire at the end of this month. They are critically important to keep Americans safe. The House is going to act and I hope the Senate will act soon as well."