Hoyer warns NSA bill could sink

Hoyer warns NSA bill could sink

House Democratic Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHillicon Valley: Social media faces scrutiny after New Zealand attacks | YouTube removed 'tens of thousands' of shooting videos | DHS chief warns of state-backed cyber threats | House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality House to take up gender pay gap, Violence Against Women Act House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality bill MORE (Md.) warned Tuesday that Senate changes to legislation reining in the NSA's surveillance powers would likely sink the bill in the House.

The Senate voted Tuesday to advance a House-passed proposal that reauthorizes certain post-9/11 spying powers while ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging a series of amendments to the bill, which if approved would require another vote in the lower chamber.

ADVERTISEMENT

Top lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee — including Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), ranking member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) — warned Monday that the House "is not likely to accept" McConnell's changes.

Hoyer on Tuesday predicted the same outcome.

"There could be an amendment that is relatively noncontroversial. We'll see. But none of the amendments that I've heard talked about are noncontroversial," Hoyer said. "Clearly, what the four most-involved members on the Judiciary Committee have said is that if the amendments that are being discussed … if those are adopted, they do not believe they would be acceptable by the House.

"I agree with their proposition."

The Senate voted Tuesday to end debate on the NSA bill after a days-long standoff between McConnell and fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a GOP presidential contender who blocked McConnell's bid to pass a short-term extension of the government's current spying powers.

The impasse led to the June 1 expiration of certain surveillance programs while forcing McConnell to take up the House-passed bill he earlier opposed.

McConnell's proposed amendments to the House version include a provision allowing a secret intelligence court to keep more opinions classified and another to give the NSA one year to end is phone record collection instead of six months.

McConnell has characterized the changes as "sensible," but House lawmakers from both parties are warning that Senate GOP leaders have put the country at risk.

"These amendments only serve to weaken the House-passed bill and postpone timely enactment of legislation that responsibly protects national security while enhancing civil liberty protections," Goodlatte, Conyers, Sensenbrenner and Nadler said.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Tuesday dismissed those warnings, suggesting the House would pass the proposal with the changes intact.

"Since when did the United States Senate outsource its decisionmaking to the other body across the Capitol?" Cornyn asked. "The Senate should not be a rubber stamp for the House or vice versa."

Votes on McConnell's amendments could occur as early as Tuesday afternoon.