Though House Speaker John Boehner initially voiced support for NSA programs of dubious constitutionality, it seems the ground is shifting underneath his feet as pressure builds within the House GOP Caucus to allow a vote on legislation to limit the NSA’s power to spy on Americans.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has defended the NSA’s spying programs, but a growing bloc of his conference is signing on to a bill that would end the NSA’s practice of collecting records on virtually all U.S. phone calls, which was revealed in leaks by Edward Snowden…
A GOP leadership aide acknowledged that there is “significant member interest in this issue as well as multiple committees with jurisdiction.”
Shortly after the Snowden revelations a bill sponsored by Representative Justin Amash got within seven votes of passing the House. The bill was defeated thanks in large part to organizing opposition votes by Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Boehner.
But now reining in the NSA appears to have even more support as those who had opposed Amash’s bill are now on board to rollback NSA power.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, for example, voted against the Amash amendment but is now a co-sponsor of the USA Freedom Act — the primary bill to limit the NSA’s power.
The bill was authored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who helped craft the USA Patriot Act that the NSA cites when seeking court approval for data collection. Sensenbrenner’s bill now has at least 102 co-sponsors, evenly split between 51 Republicans and 51 Democrats.
With near constant revelations of NSA abuses coming from the Snowden documents and a loss of credibility from intelligence officials due to being caught lying, the bipartisan pressure for Congress to act grows daily.
It seems only a matter of time before Boehner caves and the USA Freedom Act or some equivalent gets a vote in the House, then the question becomes whether the bill can make it through the Senate. Though it also remains unclear if President Obama would sign the bill if passed.