House Rules Committee Thwarts Effort to Add Privacy Protections to #NSA “Reform”

Posted: May 13, 2015 in Politics

Last night the Rules Committee in the House of Representatives voted 8-3 along party lines against proposals to allow the full House to consider amendments to the USA Freedom Act. The House is now scheduled to vote on the bill this afternoon under rules that forbid any changes.

Congressional critics of the National Security Agency from both parties had prepared a number of amendments that would have strengthened privacy protections in the bill. While the New York Times characterized the USA Freedom Act as “the strongest demonstration yet of a decade-long shift from a singular focus on national security at the expense of civil liberties to a new balance in the post-Snowden era,” organizations that advocate greater restrictions on government surveillance are currently divided on whether the legislation’s narrow reforms are better or worse than the status quo. A senior intelligence official earlier this month said the bill is “hardly major change.”

“On this issue in particular, I think Congress has gotten it wrong on so many occasions going back to the PATRIOT Act,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told the committee, calling for all members to have an opportunity to change the bill on the floor.

“Not allowing people to have amendments on this bill doesn’t give me great confidence that we’ll get it right,” he added.

The committee’s chair, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, claimed that allowing changes to the bill could upset a delicate balance struck between lawmakers on both sides of aisle, the White House and the intelligence community.

Full Story @ [The Intercept]

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