As more information regarding potential violations of American civil liberties and international spying by the National Security Administration become public, Edward Snowden may have done something he had not intended. The NSA revelations have created a rare showing of bipartisanship in Congress.
Since the Guardian first published information leaked by Snowden, 29 bills — 11 in the Senate, 18 in the House — have been introduced to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Patriot Act. With adherence to the Constitution and minimizing the role of government being two of the basic tenants of the tea party movement, the natural assumption would be that these bills are sponsored by tea party Republicans. Because of this, one would most likely also assume there would be little Democratic support. Both assumptions would be wrong.
11 Senate bills:
Sponsors – 10 Democrat, 1 Independent
Bills with at least one GOP cosponsor – 5
Bills with no cosponsor – 2
18 House bills:
Sponsors – 15 Democrat, 3 Republican
Democratic bills with at least one GOP cosponsor – 10
Republican bills with at least one Democratic cosponsor – 1
Democratic bills with no cosponsor – 1
Republican bills with no cosponsor – 2
Democratic leadership in reigning in the national security apparatus could be a political tactic, beating the GOP at its own game. It could also be further evidence of division within the Republican Party, a conflict between national security and constitutional protections. Regardless which party leads, the clear bipartisan effort to protect American citizens from unwarranted spying by their own government has to be welcomed by all Americans given the absence of civility and cooperation in the current Congress.
Edward Snowden has his supporters and his detractors. However, anything that allows a sliver of bipartisanship to seep through the solid wall of hyper-partisanship that currently divides Congress can’t be all bad.