In early June, it was revealed that the NSA had been conducting extensive domestic spying on American citizens. Despite much fanfare for the leaker Snowden, these programs have remained virtually unchanged.
Then on Monday, Michigan Republican Justin Amash announced his intention to halt and defund certain domestic surveillance programs that target Americans. On Twitter, the congressman announced and even put pressure on his House colleagues:
“Most important bill this week: DoD Approps. We can defund NSA’s unconstitutional spying on Americans: if House leaders allow amendments.”
On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider amendments to the appropriations bill. Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, “wrote to his colleagues last week that the panel might limit amendments.” Sessions also added:
“There are a number of sensitive and ongoing issues related to national security that are more appropriately handled through an orderly amendment process ensuring timely consideration of this important measure.”
According to The Hill, there may also be amendments regarding Obama administration policy in Egypt and Syria. It may come down to which amendments are more vital to the committee.
Amash spokesman Will Adams said of the congressman’s efforts:
“In order to accomplish policy changes in an appropriations bill, you have to write amendments that defund particular programs that you don’t like. . . . We’re focusing on the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone records.”
Amash is not trying to defund the entire NSA. He is only focusing on a particular aspect of it: domestic surveillance.
This is also not the first time the Michigander has attempted to rein in the government’s surveillance prerogatives. In addition to trying to defund the NSA’s surveillance programs, Amash has also called for the resignation of James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence. In July, Clapper admitted to lying to Congress that data collected by the NSA was being stored.
In May, Amash led a team of Republicans and Democrats to introduce the Telephone Records Protection Act, an attempt to protect privacy after the seizure of AP journalists’ phone records. To date, the act has 29 co-sponsors and has been moved to committee.
Amash was also recently the object of GOP strategist Karl Rove’s scorn. The one-time George W. Bush adviser referred to the Michigan representative as “far more liberal than any other Republican.” Rove was referring to National Journal’s ratings of congressmen as well as Amash’s tendency to not vote with his party. With his reputation as a maverick, Amash may have a difficult time getting his amendment accepted by his party.