Excerpted from The Hill:
The House on Wednesday rejected an attempt to curtail the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities after a furious last-minute lobbying campaign by the White House to defeat the measure.
The House voted 205-217 against the amendment from Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), which would have prevented the National Security Agency from using the Patriot Act to collect phone records of individuals who aren’t under investigation.
A majority of Democrats — 111 — voted for Amash’s amendment despite the White House pressure, while 83 Democrats voted no. The GOP vote was 94-134.
Amash’s amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill pitted liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans opposed to the NSA’s massive surveillance activities against both parties’ leadership and the Obama administration.
Wednesday’s vote came after the White House and lawmakers who support the NSA’s surveillance activities launched a major offensive against Amash’s measure after it was granted a vote Monday evening.
The offensive underlined the significance of Wednesday’s vote, which was the first time that Congress weighed in on the NSA’s spying programs since they were revealed by The Guardian and The Washington Post last month.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released a statement Wednesday against Amash’s amendment, saying it risked “dismantling an important intelligence tool.”
And on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a rare evening statement announcing the White House’s opposition.
“We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools,” Carney said. Keep reading