A controversial bill amendment to limit the federal government’s collection of Americans’ personal information failed by a narrow margin last night in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Jim Moran (D) had voted in favor of the measure, which was defeated in a 217-205 vote.
The amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, would have ended funding for the program that allows the blanket collection of personal records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It would have placed restrictions on the National Security Agency and other federal agencies, only giving them the authority to gather data from individuals connected to ongoing investigations.
Amash brought forth the amendment in response to the information recently leaked by Edward Snowden, indicating the NSA collects residents’ phone and internet records. Moran voted in favor of restricting the NSA.
“I supported the Amash amendment because Section 215 opens the door to serious abuses by a future administration. I also opposed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act and FISA Amendments Act that provided the legal justification for this program,” said Moran in a statement. “We have to view these issues through the lens of how a future ‘Nixonian-style’ administration could misuse this type of information. It’s our best safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.”
Democrats and Republicans were split on the issue, which pitted national security against Americans’ privacy. Long-time adversaries Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), for instance, both ended up on the same side and voted against the amendment.
With the proposal’s defeat, the NSA may continue to collect residents’ private information.