Thursday, May 14, 2015

The House Passed Watered-Down NSA "Reform." These 41 Democrats Wanted Real Reform.

Yesterday, the House voted to pass the USA FREEDOM (Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring) Act of 2015, a watered-down version of NSA reform.

Supporters of the bill claim that it will end dragnet surveillance (bulk collection). However, opponents argue it will do no such thing and, in fact, will codify the ability of the government to conduct bulk collection. Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire at the end of this month, and rather than letting it die (as it should), this bill reauthorizes it.

Here is Republican Justin Amash (MI-03) on the flaws of the bill:
“We’re taking something that was not permitted under regular section 215 … and now we’re creating a whole apparatus to provide for it,” Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said on Tuesday night during a House Rules Committee proceeding.
“The language does limit the amount of bulk collection, it doesn’t end bulk collection,” Rep. Amash said, arguing that the problematic “specific selection term” allows for “very large data collection, potentially in the hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even millions.”
In a statement posted to Facebook ahead of the vote, Rep. Amash said the legislation “falls woefully short of reining in the mass collection of Americans’ data, and it takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.”
And here is Democrat Ted Lieu (CA-33), voicing similar concerns:
“I will be voting NO on H.R. 2048, which extends Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” said Congressman Lieu. “While I appreciate a number of the reforms in the bill and understand the need for secure counter-espionage and terrorism investigations, I believe our nation is better served by allowing Section 215 to expire completely and replacing it with a measure that finds a better balance between national security interests and protecting the civil liberties of Americans.”  
“The National Security Agency (NSA) and other federal agencies have used Section 215 as a cover to violate the constitutional rights of Americans for years with open-ended data gathering operations that are not properly addressed by the USA Freedom Act. Further, the bill does not include minimization language from previous versions to require the express destruction of information that is irrelevant to criminal investigations.”
“Beyond Section 215, I am troubled that the USA Freedom Act would leave in place Sections 505 and 702, provisions that also allow sweeping data collection and backdoor searches circumventing encryption that can result in the collection of information of U.S. citizens not identified in warrants.  The loopholes left in place will continue to undermine the trust of the American people. That trust needs to be earned back under leadership that is committed to constitutional principles.”    
“A federal district court struck down the NSA’s spying on Americans and called the NSA PRISM program ‘Orwellian.’ A federal appellate court ruled last week that the NSA’s bulk collection program was illegal. Despite these two court decisions, the NSA continues to operate its unconstitutional and illegal programs. Thus, even when the NSA has been told by the third branch of government that NSA is engaging in illegal activity, the NSA still continues to violate the law. The fact that the NSA used its illegal interpretation of Section 215 and kept it secret without any checks from the rubber-stamp FISA Court means that far-reaching legislation is required to address these issues and rebuild public trust in government.”
“Finally, I am disappointed the USA Freedom Act will be considered under a “closed rule,” meaning Members will not be able to consider any amendments to the Act on the House floor.  Amendments that would have protected whistleblowers and banned backdoor encryption mandates would have put appropriate civil liberties protections into the bill.”
“I thank the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee for their sincere efforts at reform. This bill is better than past efforts to reform the abuses of the NSA. However, until we have legislation that adequately addresses these loopholes and lack of accountability, I cannot vote to continue to give the federal government far reaching powers without stronger safeguards.”
The bill ultimately passed 338 to 88. 47 Republicans and 41 Democrats voted against it. 
Here are the 41 Democrats who voted NO:

Karen Bass (CA-37)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Mike Capuano (MA-07)
Katherine Clark (MA-05)
Yvette Clarke (NY-09)
Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Pete DeFazio (OR-04)
Diana DeGette (CO-01)
Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
Donna Edwards (MD-04)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
Alan Grayson (FL-09)
Al Green (TX-09)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Mike Honda (CA-17)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Richard Neal (MA-01)
Frank Pallone (NJ-06)
Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Mark Pocan (WI-02)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)
Bobby Rush (IL-01)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Jose Serrano (NY-15)
Mark Takai (HI-01)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Nydia Velázquez (NY-07)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)

Last year, 70 Democrats voted against a largely similar version of the USA FREEDOM Act.
Whose votes changed?

Karen Bass and Bobby Rush weren't there last year, but now voted against it.

Ted Lieu, Mark Takai, and Bonnie Watson Coleman are freshmen--and both replace like-voting retired Democrats (Henry Waxman, Colleen Hanabusa, and Rush Holt, respectively).

7 Democrats who voted FOR it last year now voted AGAINST it:

Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Al Green (TX-09)
Mark Pocan (WI-02)
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)

Bob Brady (PA-01) and Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15), who voted AGAINST it last year, were not in attendance today.

And 29 Democrats who voted AGAINST it last year now voted FOR it:

Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Tony Cárdenas (CA-29)
Matt Cartwright (PA-17)
Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Anna Eshoo (CA-18)
Bill Foster (IL-14)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
William Keating (MA-09)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Doris Matsui (CA-06)
Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Rick Nolan (MN-08)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Linda Sánchez (CA-38)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
John Tierney (MA-06)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Pete Visclosky (IN-01)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Pete Welch (VT-AL)
John Yarmuth (KY-03)

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