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The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Wednesday's shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment's defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It's an odd turn, considering that Pelosi has been, on many occasions, a vocal surveillance critic.
But ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA's ability to collect data on Americans' telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.
"Pelosi had meetings and made a plea to vote against the amendment and that had a much bigger effect on swing Democratic votes against the amendment than anything Alexander had to say," said the source, keeping in mind concerted White House efforts to influence Congress by Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "Had Pelosi not been as forceful as she had been, it's unlikely there would've been more Democrats for the amendment."
Originally posted by xuenchen
Apparently, our dear friend Nancy Pelosi (bless her heart) was a major force behind the effort to defeat the amendment.
Originally posted by Damian65
I was pretty surprised that of the 217, 134 were Republicans...made me a little sick to my stomach.
Washington, D.C -- Today, Congresswoman Sinema joined a bipartisan majority to pass H.R. 2397, which provides funding for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2014, by a vote of 315 to 109.
“Today we passed legislation to maintain the security of our country, support jobs in Arizona, and take steps to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending in the federal government,” said Sinema. "In addition, as the result of amendments I supported, this bill takes important steps to eliminate sexual assault in the military."
During consideration of H.R. 2397, the House debated two amendments related to the National Security Agency’s information collection programs. The first amendment offered by Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas ensures that none of the funds included in this bill can be used by the NSA to target a U.S. person or acquire and store the content of a U.S. person’s communications, including phone calls and e-mails. The second amendment offered by Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan would prevent collection of any tangible things under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act unless those tangible things pertain to a person who is subject to a specific investigation.
“This is an important part of our national conversation – one that I take seriously," said Sinema. "I consider it one of my highest responsibilities to protect privacy and individual liberty.”
“I have very real concerns about the federal government’s action and lack of transparency regarding the collection and retention of law-abiding Americans’ private information.
“For these reasons, I supported Representative Pompeo's amendment to block the targeting of any law-abiding civilian for the purpose of collecting and retaining that individual’s communications, including phone calls and email. I believe this a good step forward and that we can find stronger ways to protect our individual liberties.
“I also believe that we must find the right balance between keeping Americans safe from very real threats and protecting the liberty of our citizens.
“For this reason, I voted against Mr. Amash’s amendment. I stand with Mr. Amash philosophically and oppose the government's current collection of metadata, but I believe, while well intentioned, that the text of this amendment could interfere with legitimate and appropriate efforts to keep our citizens safe from harm. I believe that we must work toward less intrusive methods to ensure our security. The broad language we considered today could have limited the ability of our national security and law enforcement community to prevent the bombing plot against the New York subway system or to quickly respond to events like the Boston bombing.
“I remain committed to working with Mr. Amash to enable appropriate tools for the federal government to detect and prevent international criminal activity. There are other ways than the invasive collection of metadata to ensure the security of Americans while protecting our precious 4th Amendment rights.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today joined a strong bipartisan majority in the House to approve funding for the Department of Defense – including a prohibition on the furlough of defense civilians in FY2014, a pay raise for troops and continued research funding for the University of Arizona and contracts for Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems.
“Today I voted for a strong national defense and to stand up for the men and women who help keep our nation safe here and abroad.” Barber said today. “This bill will prohibit the devastating furloughs mandated by the irresponsible, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration and provides a much-needed salary increase for the men and women in our armed forces who have volunteered to protect our nation.
“This budget also includes several provisions to address the deeply troubling problem of sexual assault in the military, which we must stop immediately,” Barber said.
Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was involved in developing the spending plan as a member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces and Readiness subcommittees.
The budget Barber supported today for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 includes a 1.8 percent pay increase for all military personnel – higher than the 1 percent increase that the Pentagon had requested.
It also includes expanded health care for troops and their families and measures to deal with sexual assault in the military. Barber voted to fully fund the $157 million Sexual Assault and Prevention and Response Programs and $25 million to implement a Sexual Assault Special Victims Program.
Barber has been a leader in Congress in fighting sexual assault in the military. Last month, the full House approved Barber’s bipartisan legislation to extend whistleblower protections to victims of military sexual assault. According to a recent Pentagon report, there were an estimated 26,000 victims of sexual violence in the military during fiscal year 2012 – a 37 percent increase from the previous year.
The Department of Defense budget approved today also includes:
A provision that prevents the furlough of any Department of Defense civilian employee in fiscal 2014.
Funding for numerous weapons programs manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems which is based in Tucson and is the largest private employer in Barber’s district. The budget funds Javelin and TOW anti-tank missiles as well as Patriot, Tomahawk, Joint Standoff Weapon, AMRAAM air-to-air and Joint Air-to-Ground missiles.
Funding for the Iron Dome missile-defense system which has been developed by Israel in cooperation with Raytheon. Barber has pushed to have Iron Dome co-produced in the United States, which could lead to jobs in his Southern Arizona district.
Funding for university partnerships and research, some of which will be conducted at the University of Arizona.
A prohibition on the implementation of any enrollment fees to the TRICARE for Life program.
Improved health care programs for troops, their families and military retirees, including more money for cancer research, medical facility upgrades and suicide prevention.
Increased funding for service members and veterans living with traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.
Increased funding for veterans who have been diagnosed with Gulf War Illness and to help find a cure for the disease.
Increased funding for special Marine Task Force-Crisis Response, to protect our embassies across the globe and prevent another tragedy such as that in Benghazi, Libya.
Barber called upon his colleagues in both the House and the Senate to meet in a conference committee to resolve differences in their respective versions of the defense appropriations bills.
“Our service members, military leaders and the defense industry need the stability that comes from this defense budget,” Barber said. “I call on my colleagues in Congress to work together and pass a final version of this bill and send it to the president for his signature. We cannot continue to fund our national security on temporary fallback measures. We need a budget that will fund the Department of Defense for a full year.”