Rep. Justin Amash Pushing To Strip The NSA's Funding With An Amendment To The Defense Appropriations Bill

from the no-money-no-problems dept

Have you ever wondered what it might take to shut the NSA down? It’s not like you can vote the agency out of office, and a great many of those in office are either defending its practices or can’t be bothered to find out why the recent leaks are such a big deal.

Rep. Justin Amash has an idea — punch the NSA straight in the wallet.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is mounting a push this week to defund the surveillance programs at the National Security Agency.

Amash said Monday that the defense appropriations bill, which could come to the House floor this week, was a chance to stop the NSA’s “unconstitutional spying on Americans.”

“Most important bill this week: DoD Approps. We can defund #NSA’s unconstitutional spying on Americans–if House leaders allow amendments, Amash tweeted Monday.

It’s a rather unlikely plan. Institutions like this simply don’t vanish just because their funding has been stripped. Plus, as noted above, the NSA still has many defenders, not the least of which is the President.

Amash’s attempt at bankrupting the NSA (of money, not morals) will be entertaining to observe, if nothing else. Unfortunately, the House is stacking the deck against him, removing the open amendment process that’s been in use since the Republicans took over defense appropriations in 2011.

House Republican leaders are considering limiting amendments to the defense bill out of concern for proposals that Amash and other lawmakers might bring forward.

Convenient, isn’t it? If you don’t like the way the game is going, change the rules. Why won’t the House Republicans allow this appropriations bill to move through the system, gathering pork and pet legislation in a Katamari-esque fashion, like it has in the past? Well, it seems that opportunists like Amash might sully the pristine legislative process with excessive amendments, something the country simply can’t afford in these times of tenuous safety.

“While this is not the traditional process for this bill, 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,” [Rules Committee Chairman Pete] Sessions wrote.

Amash is undeterred and has promised to continue streamlining the language of his NSA-defunding amendment in hopes of attaching it to the appropriations bill.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to be a political decision by our leadership if they want to give it a floor vote,” [Amash spokesperson Will] Adams said.

Let’s hope they do. If nothing else, it will result in a few days of panic and shouting as the possibility of the NSA having to hold bake sales to fund data interception edges towards reality.

More seriously, though, Amash’s attempted amendment doesn’t really address the multiple issues surrounding the NSA’s overreach. It does help keep attention focused on the agency, which is a good thing. But it’s going to take something more than a defunding attempt or a class action suit to really curb the NSA’s surveillance programs. Legislation is almost impossible to walk back once passed into law and the secrecy surrounding the laws (and the laws’ interpretations) will make any attempt to do this an excruciating uphill battle against entrenched interests, both public and private. Hopefully, representatives like Amash will continue the battle to restore the rights of their constituents.

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Comments on “Rep. Justin Amash Pushing To Strip The NSA's Funding With An Amendment To The Defense Appropriations Bill”

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ethorad (profile) says:

I have a bad feeling about this ...

I don’t think cutting the NSA’s funding will help matters.

It only means they will have to turn to alternative sources of funding. They could try bake sales, but I don’t think they have much in the way of cookie ingredients. What they do have is a huge amount of personal data on US citizens – which would be very valuable to any number of companies and ad networks out there.

Think it was bad when the government had the data? It’ll only get worse when everyone else gets a copy as well!

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Nice try, have a cigar

It’s nice that someone in Congress is mad enough to do something about the NSA.

Refreshing, actually.

But as been noted, it will be a futile effort and gesture-because the DoD budget is a sacred cow, and nobody kills those.

As for who supports the NSA? Try all of the defense lobbyists, the President, most of Congress-plus those employed by the NSA.

Thousands of people. Only a few of whom are powerful enough to force change.

It will take enormous and sustained effort, lots of court battles, wins and losses before this is over, if it is ever over.

Nobody knows who will win, either.

One good step though right now-fire Keith Alexander, immediately. He’s the driving architect of this program and its’ expansion. He’s one of many, but one of the most Clapper, who should be not only fired but prosecuted for lying to Congress.

Anonymous Coward says:

I'd go the other direction

If I was Verizon or AT&T, I’d just start charging the NSA a couple hundred million per request. Give my company a big fat profit margin at the same time. I mean, this information is important, right? That means demand for it is increasing and supply hasn’t changed. Therefore, price goes up. So sorry NSA.

Votre (profile) says:

It's fine to cut the budget, but...

All well and good to cut the NSA’s budget. But here’s a thought question: Exactly how much is that budget currently?

Don’t know? Well that’s perfectly understandable. Because the NSA budget is buried inside a classified programs allocation… which then gets buried inside a larger DoD budget bill…and then this bill gets voted on without our legislature ever being allowed to examine how some extremely large amounts of money will actually get allocated because…(wait for it)…IT’S SECRET!

Yes, they vote on the NSA budget without ever knowing what that budget is or for what it will be used for. Small wonder the PRISM facility in Utah got built with so little fanfare or concern.

You just have tp love that circular national security “logic.” Protecting our nations freedom by the simple expedient of taking our nations freedoms away.

Oh well. At least we can take comfort knowing it wasn’t some “damn ferriners” that stole it from us.

Terry says:

maybe for the best..??

May it happen, a government shut down. The only way to stop the N S A. It seems to be the silver lining. The way to stop the government from controlling its own people. When they should be working to solve problems instead of looking in american citizens E-mail and phone records to find anything they can use against Americans. That is the reason the office holders don’t vote against it { we got your records}.

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