Top Obama administration officials, appearing before a House committee to defend controversial government surveillance programs, ran into tough questions Wednesday from lawmakers of both parties, who expressed deep skepticism about the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records and other communications.

The programs ignited a furor in the United States and abroad when they were publicly disclosed six weeks ago by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The administration believes the programs “achieve the right balance” between protecting Americans’ safety and their privacy, said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

But in grilling Cole and other officials about the programs, Democrats and Republicans on the committee expressed concern that the collection of information is too broad and intrusive.