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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Filed Under: appropriations, congress, funding, justin amaash, nsa, nsa surveillance

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  1. identicon
    FM Hilton, 16 Jul 2013 @ 9:15am

    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.

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