House Votes Down Amash's Attempt To Stop Warrantless FISA Surveillance

Don't blame him for any FISA abuses. He's been fighting it for years.


Yesterday evening, an amendment to restrain domestic surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) crashed and burned in the House, failing by a vote of 175-252. Proposed by Reps. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D–Calif.), the amendment's numerous no votes were split almost evenly among Democrats and Republicans.

The amendment was attached to a spending appropriations bill (HR 2740) and would have forbid the use of any funds to submit a surveillance request under Section 702's guidelines unless the requesting organization—the National Security Agency (NSA)—certifies that the surveillance is not "to acquire the communications of a particular, known person reasonably believed to be in the United States, any acquisition of a communication as to which no participant is a person who is targeted pursuant to the authorized acquisition, or any acquisition of a communication known to be entirely domestic."

Translation: The purpose of Section 702 of FISA is intended to authorize warrantless secret surveillance of foreign targets of interest in other countries who may be plotting against the United States. In practice, we know that the NSA has been collecting significant amounts of domestic communications of American citizens, without warrants, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This was the surveillance that Edward Snowden helped expose, and we've been arguing over it ever since.

Despite repeatedly and loudly complaining that he and his aides had been illegally surveilled under FISA as a candidate, President Donald Trump has done nothing to actually restrain these surveillance powers. Last year, given the opportunity to rethink the limits of Section 702 when it was up for renewal, Congress and Trump instead expanded its authority to snoop on Americans.

So this year, Amash and Lofgren embarked on a new effort to stop the NSA from secretly collecting Americans' communications. Amash spoke passionately in defense of his amendment on the House floor last evening:

We can see what's wrong with Washington right here. We have Republicans for months saying "We're worried about FISA abuse. FISA's out of control!" Here we are trying to limit FISA and they're running against it. They're saying "No, we can't limit FISA!" Democrats say, "We want to hold the president in check. Executive power is out of control." We have an amendment to hold the president in check. This is our time to stand up for the American people. I'm sick of going home and telling them that neither side wanted to defend their rights.

But it was not to be. The amendment got all of 10 minutes of debate and was defeated.

Of interest: Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) and Amash have been at odds over Trump's behavior to the point that Amash has left the House Freedom Caucus they both helped found. Nevertheless Jordan showed up to declare his support for Amash's amendment, speak in favor of it, and vote for it. On the other side of the aisle, notable Democrats supporting Amash included Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

The roll call of votes can be found here.

NEXT: Josh Hawley Introduces Bill to Put Washington In Charge of Internet Speech

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  1. This looks like the democrats think they will win in 2020, and have grand plans – – – – –

  2. Well this is depressing. We can’t get this passed with Democrats in the majority?

    1. Looks like Occasional-Cortex voted against it, so the pinko-commies still know how power works.

      1. “notable Democrats supporting Amash included Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.”

        Where did you see that? Article says she supported it.

        1. Roll call also says that POS voted aye. Stopped clock and whatnot…

    2. From what sort of court did the warrants for poking into the Trump campaign come from?
      This is too useful for Democrats to get rid of.

      1. +1,000!!!

      2. Why would Democrats need warrants? The salaries of the federal bureaucracy are dependent on continual growth of the state, and that’s what Democrats are promising. If Democratic politicians want to surveil someone, the NSA and other agencies make it happen and concoct a cover story because the interests of the Democrats and the employees of federal agencies align.

  3. tilting at windmills

    1. It’s not even that. It’s pretending to tilt at windmills.

      Even if this had passed, it would have been meaningless and ineffective.

  4. Goddamnit, I know I put my shocked face here somewhere.
    [rummages through porn collection]
    Nope, not here.
    [looks through bin of Sarwark tweet printouts]
    Not there either.
    Anyone seen my shocked face?

  5. I’m sure Amash worked really hard to gather a coalition and was sold out at the last minute…

    Haha, just kidding.
    Amash doesn’t do shit but ineffectively grandstand

    1. How silly you are!

      What’s the alternative — vote with the Trump crowd?

      Does Trump not grandstand?

      Is there such a thing as effectively grandstanding?

      What point do you think you are trying to make?

      1. It can’t be enough that Trump is bad on this issue. It has to be that the people that are also good on this issue, and critical of Trump, have to also be bad on this issue.

        I call it Amash Derangement Syndrome.

        1. Trump got rid of the NSA’s Mega-Data collection….More than Obummy did!

        2. Amash would get more respect if he would stop pushing for process crimes originating from an investigation based on this very sort of surveillance abuse he show voted on here. It takes a special kind of dissonance to not understand the hypocrisy there.

      2. Amash has as much influcence as 1 v. 534 as we do armed w/our keyboards.

        1. And that’s the point.
          Why praise Amash for trying when there’s little to no evidence that he is even trying?
          Our political system, his office especially, requires building coalitions.
          Amash doesn’t appear to do that – at least not effectively, if at all.
          Indeed, his Twitter rants about impeaching Trump for obstruction of justice not only diminish his prospects of gathering such a coalition, but also implicitly endorse the very FISA abuses his bill ostensibly seeks to eliminate.

          1. It wasn’t 1-534. t was 175-252.

            If 5 thugs invade your home, do you give up?

            How could any libertarian build consensus for libertarian views?

            His constituents seem to like him. What put you in charge?

            1. Wtf is wrong with you? Have you ever tried not melting down into temper tantrum when somebody pushes back against you?
              It’s my opinion he’s a shitty rep and not someone for libertarians to idolize. Not sure how having that opinion and expressing it is in any way me assuming that I’m “in charge”.
              What a weird response.
              At any rate, are you sure you want to go with “his constituents seem to like him” as proof that he’s a good rep? Because in that case, we have 535 paragons of virtue making up Congress.
              Wouldn’t have guessed you’d be such a big fan of Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, Steve King, etc…

              1. It’s my opinion he’s a shitty rep and not someone for libertarians to idolize.

                I know, right? Why can’t libertarians demand reps that suck Trump cock more?

                1. This is why everyone laughs at you.

                  That, and your attempts to import rapists.

                2. You’re a fucking idiot Jeff. Glad to see you got bail after getting caught up in the mass pedo arrests.

              2. It’s SQRLSY, no it has never not utterly lost its shit after getting told to sit down.

                1. Try not to be so negative.

                  Or …

                  Try to be less negative.

                  Or …

                  Try to be more positive.

              3. Hey now. Amash once got a post office named. That’s pretty good for 10 years.

          2. Our political system, his office especially, requires building coalitions.

            In Nardz-speak, “building coalitions” is code for “caving to Team Red”

            1. In jeff speak, everything is “hurrr durrr i has a smart” and then he tries to import rapists.

              1. Jeff supports Amash because Amash practices the same type of lazy intellectualism Jeff does. Why work towards a goal. Just sit back and be lazy. Dont even have to actually educate yourself. Tout low thought platitudes and claim victory.

    2. Principles are for cucks! Real men own the libs with every utterance. Let the hate flow through you.

      1. Eunuch with the wrong answer to “to be or not to be” every day

      2. Principles based on naivete are still based on naivete. No better than “principled” communists.

      3. And what “principle” is it to have a show vote on ineffective, useless legislation that you know won’t pass anyway?

        Or are you actually the kind of gullible progressive who thinks that passing a law that says “X shall not be done” stops “X” from being done?

    3. Working hard to gather a coalition… vote against allowing the government to continue illegally spying on the citizens it ostensibly serves. It’s a sad state of affairs when FYTW becomes the de facto law of the land and there’s no worry on the part of the government that a mob of citizens armed with torches and pitchforks is going to show up at their door. We really do get the government we deserve.

      1. I am very pro pitchforks

  6. We need more libertarians in congress. I can’t trust a government that spies on its own citizens.

    1. Somewhere in DC, in the darkened depths of a government building, the name “Mighty Lu Bu” is added to a list…

    2. why would a libertarian want to be in Congress?

      1. Senate or bust

    3. Amash supports spying if it means getting rid of someone he dislikes.

      1. This is such a dumb argument. The Trump conduct that Amash called impeachable was not the supposed collusion with Russia or any other embarrassing private conduct that was gotten using FISA spying, it was the obstruction of justice posited by the Mueller investigation and discovered using normal investigation techniques like interviewing people.

    4. We need more libertarians in congress.

      We need people with a commitment to liberty and an understanding of policy, not libertarianish bobblehead blowhards like Amash.

  7. Don’t blame him for any FISA abuses. He’s been fighting it for years.

    Just imagine what *his* FISA dossier must look like!

    1. Fighting apparently means a couple of show votes to reason writers.

  8. Blaming Trump (or any President) for not being able to make Congress non-partisan is pointless. How do you figure he build popular support for restraining FISA abuse? Half the country thinks he’s guilty of something and they’ll do anything to uncover it or impede his ability to act. They’re a lost cause and can’t be reasoned with. Of course his supporters want to end it because they’re attacking Trump, but asking people to defend principles right now is a losing argument. If it had been Bush or Obama who was surveilled illegally, I could see broad bipartisan support, but not for Trump. He’s too caustic.

  9. Is chemjeff still hanging out at Applebees trying (unsuccessfully) to pick up underage girls when they leave their tables unsupervised to visit the restroom?

    1. Does give nice cash tips directly to the illegal alien busboys? Y’know being such a compassionate Prog-Tard!!!

  10. The same Amash who now believes that a poorly and possibly illegally predicated FISA warrant used to justify a special counsel generating process crimes requires impeachment? That “principled” Amash?

    What about “investigations are a good thing because they can exonerate you?”

  11. I suppose there’s some use to having a list of which members of the House the NSA has dirt on…

  12. Typical progressive approach: “pass a law against it and fool people into thinking that it will take care of the problem”.

    You want a law against warrantless wiretapping and domestic spying that has teeth? Pass a law that permits and requires private companies to disclose government surveillance requests to targets within one year after the surveillance starts, and permits and requires them to disclose all government surveillance requests and methods publicly after redacting personal information.

  13. […] is our time to stand up for the American people. I’m sick of going home and telling them that neither side wanted to defend their […]

  14. […] after a bitter battle between privacy activists and security hawks in both chambers. [The Hill | House Votes Down Amash’s Attempt To Stop Warrantless FISA Surveillance | House votes down amendment to ban warrantless spying on Americans | Critics Lament as 126 House […]

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