The Corner

Amash Forcing the Issue on NSA

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan is on his way to forcing the first legislative showdown over the National Security Agency’s controversial policy of collecting the phone logs of every American.

The venue for the fight is an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would ban the NSA from collecting information from people who aren’t under investigation.

GOP leadership keeps stalling, showing the push is putting Speaker John Boehner in a bind. The House Rules Committee, which will decide whether the amendment gets a vote on the floor, delayed its proceedings yesterday for the second time this week. The underlying bill, the Department of Defense Appropriations bill, has also been expected on the floor for the past several weeks but keeps getting pushed back.

The catch is, if the Rules Committee doesn’t allow a vote on the amendment, Amash and a coalition of Republicans and Democrats probably have the votes to bring the whole bill down. To do so, they could vote against the “rule,” which governs debate for the bill. Those are typically party-line votes, so only a few Republicans would need to join the Democrats to defeat it.

Joining with Amash are conservative Republican representatives Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Thomas Massie of Kentucky as well as liberal Democratic representatives Jared Polis of Colorado and John Conyers of Michigan. Conyers is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Amash says the amendment could get widespread support in a roll call vote. “The coalition is much broader than just libertarian-leaning conservatives and liberals. If you talk to members from across the political spectrum you’ll find widespread disapproval of what the NSA is doing,” he says, adding “our effort is not aimed at overseas spying operations that are legitimate and constitutional.” It’s the “collection of all Americans’ phone records here in the United States” that he opposes.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More