With Bipartisan Support, House Votes to Renew NSA Spying Program, Rejecting Privacy Safeguards

With bipartisan backing, a total of 256 members of the House of Representatives voted Thursday morning to renew one of the government’s most sweeping surveillance authorities for six years with minimal changes, expanding the government’s surveillance powers while ignoring widespread support for reform.

A roll call posted after the vote shows that breaks down to 191 Republicans and 65 Democrats (complete list at end of article).

The measure, which passed 256-164, reauthorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was set to expire later this month.

The vote came to a head after years of debate over the US’ surveillance and intelligence-gathering capability, largely brought to light after the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013. The most intrusive of the intelligence community’s powers, as delineated within the controversial Section 702, are set to expire next week after an earlier deadline of December 31 was postponed, forcing lawmakers to act to extend the National Security Agency‘s legal authority to spy on foreigners overseas.

Section 702 allows the NSA to gather intelligence on foreigners overseas by collecting data from chokepoints where fiber optic cables owned by telecom giants enter the US.

But the collection also incidentally sweeps up large amounts of data on countless Americans, who are constitutionally protected from warrantless surveillance. Event though Section 702 explicitly prohibits the targeting of Americans, the intelligence community can then search those messages without a warrant.

The vote Thursday marks the first time lawmakers have agreed to pass a bill since those intelligence leaks five years ago. House lawmakers had an opportunity to pass a sweeping reform amendment, supported by several civil liberties groups, which would’ve reined in the government’s ability to spy on Americans without a court-approved warrant, but that effort failed: only one-third of the House voted —unsuccessfully — to reject the bill.

The bill, as passed by the House, will extend the government’s spying programs for six years without any substantial changes or privacy safeguards included. Some privacy organizations say the bill expands the NSA’s surveillance by restarting the “about” collection (known as backdoor searches), which the agency was forced to shut down after it was found to violate the law.

The law was first passed in 2008 to legalize President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. It allows the National Security Agency to collect Americans’ communications with people overseas, as long as the NSA is “targeting” the foreigners involved.

The law serves as the legal backing for two mammoth NSA programs revealed by Edward Snowden: Upstream, which collects information from the internet junctions where data passes in and out of the country, and PRISM, which collects communications from U.S.-based internet companies, like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo.

The programs rest on the notion that they are “targeting” foreigners, but they also collect massive amounts of data on Americans, including wholly domestic communications. Numerous members of Congress have requested an estimate of how much since 2011, but both the Obama and Trump administrations have refused to disclose this information.

The bill also consolidates the FBI’s legal authority to search those communications without a warrant. Under current rules, the NSA shares certain kinds of information it collects under Section 702 with the FBI, whose agents can then search it in the course of investigating crimes unrelated to national security.

On Thursday, the House failed to pass an amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), which would have required federal law enforcement agents to get a warrant before searching NSA data for information on American citizens. The amendment was defeated 183-233, with 125 Democrats voting for it and 55 Democrats against, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

As it is, the bill contains a cosmetic reform to the practice of “backdoor searches,” which requires the FBI to get a warrant whenever conducting searches related to an established criminal investigation. But it carves out massive exceptions, including for any investigation related to national security and whenever the FBI determines there is a “threat to life or serious bodily harm.” The contention has been largely rendered irrelevant anyway because current rules allow the FBI to conduct queries even before opening an investigation.

The bill’s passage follows a monthlong push by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to reauthorize Section 702 with as few reforms as possible. On multiple occasions, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the committee, circulated fliers with pictures of Islamic State fighters urging passage of the bill. This week, Nunes circulated a flier opposing the Amash amendment with pictures of the Boston Marathon  explosion and the bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. By supporting the bill, Democrats in the leadership and on the Intelligence Committee seem to be buying into Nunes’s tactics.

Democratic and Republican leadership both lined up in support of the bill and to oppose the amendment.

“Respectful of debate on this issue, I myself will be voting to support my ranking member on the Intelligence Committee,” said Pelosi, referring to the bill’s roots in a template from the Intelligence Committee. “Weighing the equities, that’s the path I will take.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), also spoke in support of the bill and against the amendment, adding: “I want to thank [Pelosi] for coming up and speaking against the Amash amendment, and in favor of the underlying bipartisan [bill].”

Seventy percent of Democrats voted against giving President Trump the ability to spy on Americans without first obtaining a warrant, as required by the Constitution. Unfortunately, 55 Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), voted in favor of expanding domestic government surveillance — and implicitly signed on to the racist, xenophobic language used by the Intelligence Committee majority.

A swing of just 26 Democrats would have defeated the measure.

Dozens of privacy and civil liberties groups urged lawmakers in an open letter Wednesday to vote against the bill. Now, they say that lawmakers ignored widespread public support for reforming the law.

The entire House is up for election later this year in the 2018 midterms, including the 256 members who voted to reject privacy measures that would protect Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights.

Here’s the full list of House members who voted to pass the bill, minus those scheduled for retirement (in case you want to vote against them later this year when they’re up for re-election):

  1. RALPH LEE ABRAHAM (LA-5TH)
  2. ROBERT B. ADERHOLT (AL-4TH)
  3. PETE AGUILAR (CA-31ST)
  4. RICK W. ALLEN (GA-12TH)
  5. MARK E. AMODEI (NV-2D)
  6. JODEY C. ARRINGTON (TX-19TH)
  7. DON BACON (NE-2D)
  8. JIM BANKS (IN-3D)
  9. LOU BARLETTA (PA-11TH)
  10. ANDY BARR (KY-6TH)
  11. AMI BERA (CA-7TH)
  12. JACK BERGMAN (MI-1ST)
  13. GUS M. BILIRAKIS (FL-12TH)
  14. MIKE BISHOP (MI-8TH)
  15. SANFORD D. BISHOP (GA-2D)
  16. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (DE-AT LARGE)
  17. MIKE BOST (IL-12TH)
  18. BRENDAN F. BOYLE (PA-13TH)
  19. KEVIN BRADY (TX-8TH)
  20. JIM BRIDENSTINE (OK-1ST)
  21. MO BROOKS (AL-5TH)
  22. SUSAN W. BROOKS (IN-5TH)
  23. ANTHONY G. BROWN (MD-4TH)
  24. JULIA BROWNLEY (CA-26TH)
  25. VERN BUCHANAN (FL-16TH)
  26. LARRY BUCSHON (IN-8TH)
  27. CHERI BUSTOS (IL-17TH)
  28. BRADLEY BYRNE (AL-1ST)
  29. KEN CALVERT (CA-42D)
  30. ANDRÉ CARSON (IN-7TH)
  31. EARL L. “BUDDY” CARTER (GA-1ST)
  32. JOHN R. CARTER (TX-31ST)
  33. MATT CARTWRIGHT (PA-17TH)
  34. KATHY CASTOR (FL-14TH)
  35. STEVE CHABOT (OH-1ST)
  36. LIZ CHENEY (WY-AT LARGE)
  37. JAMES E. CLYBURN (SC-6TH)
  38. MIKE COFFMAN (CO-6TH)
  39. TOM COLE (OK-4TH)
  40. CHRIS COLLINS (NY-27TH)
  41. DOUG COLLINS (GA-9TH)
  42. JAMES COMER (KY-1ST)
  43. BARBARA COMSTOCK (VA-10TH)
  44. K. MICHAEL CONAWAY (TX-11TH)
  45. PAUL COOK (CA-8TH)
  46. JIM COOPER (TN-5TH)
  47. JIM COSTA (CA-16TH)
  48. RYAN A. COSTELLO (PA-6TH)
  49. KEVIN CRAMER (ND-AT LARGE)
  50. ERIC A. “RICK” CRAWFORD (AR-1ST)
  51. CHARLIE CRIST (FL-13TH)
  52. HENRY CUELLAR (TX-28TH)
  53. JOHN ABNEY CULBERSON (TX-7TH)
  54. CARLOS CURBELO (FL-26TH)
  55. JOHN R. CURTIS (UT-3D)
  56. RODNEY DAVIS (IL-13TH)
  57. VAL BUTLER DEMINGS (FL-10TH)
  58. JEFF DENHAM (CA-10TH)
  59. RON DESANTIS (FL-6TH)
  60. SCOTT DESJARLAIS (TN-4TH)
  61. THEODORE E. DEUTCH (FL-22D)
  62. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (FL-25TH)
  63. DANIEL M. DONOVAN (NY-11TH)
  64. NEAL P. DUNN (FL-2D)
  65. RON ESTES (KS-4TH)
  66. JOHN J. FASO (NY-19TH)
  67. DREW FERGUSON (GA-3D)
  68. BRIAN K. FITZPATRICK (PA-8TH)
  69. CHARLES J. “CHUCK” FLEISCHMANN (TN-3D)
  70. BILL FLORES (TX-17TH)
  71. JEFF FORTENBERRY (NE-1ST)
  72. BILL FOSTER (IL-11TH)
  73. VIRGINIA FOXX (NC-5TH)
  74. LOIS FRANKEL (FL-21ST)
  75. RODNEY P. FRELINGHUYSEN (NJ-11TH)
  76. MATT GAETZ (FL-1ST)
  77. MIKE GALLAGHER (WI-8TH)
  78. JOHN GARAMENDI (CA-3D)
  79. GREG GIANFORTE (MT-AT LARGE)
  80. BOB GIBBS (OH-7TH)
  81. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (NJ-5TH)
  82. TREY GOWDY (SC-4TH)
  83. KAY GRANGER (TX-12TH)
  84. SAM GRAVES (MO-6TH)
  85. TOM GRAVES (GA-14TH)
  86. GLENN GROTHMAN (WI-6TH)
  87. BRETT GUTHRIE (KY-2D)
  88. KAREN C. HANDEL (GA-6TH)
  89. VICKY HARTZLER (MO-4TH)
  90. JODY B. HICE (GA-10TH)
  91. BRIAN HIGGINS (NY-26TH)
  92. CLAY HIGGINS (LA-3D)
  93. J. FRENCH HILL (AR-2D)
  94. JAMES A. HIMES (CT-4TH)
  95. GEORGE HOLDING (NC-2D)
  96. TREY HOLLINGSWORTH (IN-9TH)
  97. STENY H. HOYER (MD-5TH)
  98. RICHARD HUDSON (NC-8TH)
  99. BILL HUIZENGA (MI-2D)
  100. RANDY HULTGREN (IL-14TH)
  101. DUNCAN HUNTER (CA-50TH)
  102. WILL HURD (TX-23D)
  103. DARRELL E. ISSA (CA-49TH)
  104. EVAN H. JENKINS (WV-3D)
  105. BILL JOHNSON (OH-6TH)
  106. MIKE JOHNSON (LA-4TH)
  107. DAVID P. JOYCE (OH-14TH)
  108. JOHN KATKO (NY-24TH)
  109. WILLIAM R. KEATING (MA-9TH)
  110. MIKE KELLY (PA-3D)
  111. TRENT KELLY (MS-1ST)
  112. STEVE KING (IA-4TH)
  113. PETER T. KING (NY-2D)
  114. ADAM KINZINGER (IL-16TH)
  115. STEPHEN KNIGHT (CA-25TH)
  116. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (IL-8TH)
  117. ANN M. KUSTER (NH-2D)
  118. DAVID KUSTOFF (TN-8TH)
  119. DARIN LAHOOD (IL-18TH)
  120. DOUG LAMALFA (CA-1ST)
  121. DOUG LAMBORN (CO-5TH)
  122. LEONARD LANCE (NJ-7TH)
  123. JAMES R. LANGEVIN (RI-2D)
  124. ROBERT E. LATTA (OH-5TH)
  125. AL LAWSON (FL-5TH)
  126. DANIEL LIPINSKI (IL-3D)
  127. DAVID LOEBSACK (IA-2D)
  128. BILLY LONG (MO-7TH)
  129. MIA B. LOVE (UT-4TH)
  130. NITA M. LOWEY (NY-17TH)
  131. FRANK D. LUCAS (OK-3D)
  132. BLAINE LUETKEMEYER (MO-3D)
  133. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (NM-1ST)
  134. THOMAS MACARTHUR (NJ-3D)
  135. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (NY-18TH)
  136. KENNY MARCHANT (TX-24TH)
  137. TOM MARINO (PA-10TH)
  138. ROGER W. MARSHALL (KS-1ST)
  139. BRIAN J. MAST (FL-18TH)
  140. KEVIN MCCARTHY (CA-23D)
  141. MICHAEL T. MCCAUL (TX-10TH)
  142. DONALD MCEACHIN (VA-4TH)
  143. DAVID B. MCKINLEY (WV-1ST)
  144. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (WA-5TH)
  145. MARTHA MCSALLY (AZ-2D)
  146. PATRICK MEEHAN (PA-7TH)
  147. GREGORY W. MEEKS (NY-5TH)
  148. LUKE MESSER (IN-6TH)
  149. PAUL MITCHELL (MI-10TH)
  150. JOHN R. MOOLENAAR (MI-4TH)
  151. SETH MOULTON (MA-6TH)
  152. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (OK-2D)
  153. STEPHANIE N. MURPHY (FL-7TH)
  154. DAN NEWHOUSE (WA-4TH)
  155. KRISTI L. NOEM (SD-AT LARGE)
  156. DONALD NORCROSS (NJ-1ST)
  157. DEVIN NUNES (CA-22D)
  158. TOM O’HALLERAN (AZ-1ST)
  159. PETE OLSON (TX-22D)
  160. STEVEN M. PALAZZO (MS-4TH)
  161. GARY J. PALMER (AL-6TH)
  162. JIMMY PANETTA (CA-20TH)
  163. ERIK PAULSEN (MN-3D)
  164. NANCY PELOSI (CA-12TH)
  165. ED PERLMUTTER (CO-7TH)
  166. SCOTT H. PETERS (CA-52D)
  167. COLLIN C. PETERSON (MN-7TH)
  168. ROBERT PITTENGER (NC-9TH)
  169. BRUCE POLIQUIN (ME-2D)
  170. BILL POSEY (FL-8TH)
  171. MIKE QUIGLEY (IL-5TH)
  172. JOHN RATCLIFFE (TX-4TH)
  173. TOM REED (NY-23D)
  174. JAMES B. RENACCI (OH-16TH)
  175. KATHLEEN M. RICE (NY-4TH)
  176. TOM RICE (SC-7TH)
  177. MARTHA ROBY (AL-2D)
  178. HAROLD ROGERS (KY-5TH)
  179. MIKE ROGERS (AL-3D)
  180. TODD ROKITA (IN-4TH)
  181. FRANCIS ROONEY (FL-19TH)
  182. THOMAS J. ROONEY (FL-17TH)
  183. JACKY ROSEN (NV-3D)
  184. PETER J. ROSKAM (IL-6TH)
  185. DENNIS A. ROSS (FL-15TH)
  186. KEITH J. ROTHFUS (PA-12TH)
  187. DAVID ROUZER (NC-7TH)
  188. RAUL RUIZ (CA-36TH)
  189. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (MD-2D)
  190. STEVE RUSSELL (OK-5TH)
  191. JOHN H. RUTHERFORD (FL-4TH)
  192. PAUL D. RYAN (WI-1ST)
  193. ADAM B. SCHIFF (CA-28TH)
  194. BRADLEY SCOTT SCHNEIDER (IL-10TH)
  195. DAVID SCHWEIKERT (AZ-6TH)
  196. AUSTIN SCOTT (GA-8TH)
  197. DAVID SCOTT (GA-13TH)
  198. PETE SESSIONS (TX-32D)
  199. TERRI A. SEWELL (AL-7TH)
  200. JOHN SHIMKUS (IL-15TH)
  201. MICHAEL K. SIMPSON (ID-2D)
  202. KYRSTEN SINEMA (AZ-9TH)
  203. ALBIO SIRES (NJ-8TH)
  204. LOUISE MCINTOSH SLAUGHTER (NY-25TH)
  205. ADRIAN SMITH (NE-3D)
  206. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (NJ-4TH)
  207. JASON SMITH (MO-8TH)
  208. LLOYD SMUCKER (PA-16TH)
  209. ELISE M. STEFANIK (NY-21ST)
  210. CHRIS STEWART (UT-2D)
  211. STEVE STIVERS (OH-15TH)
  212. THOMAS R. SUOZZI (NY-3D)
  213. ERIC SWALWELL (CA-15TH)
  214. SCOTT TAYLOR (VA-2D)
  215. CLAUDIA TENNEY (NY-22D)
  216. GLENN THOMPSON (PA-5TH)
  217. MIKE THOMPSON (CA-5TH)
  218. MAC THORNBERRY (TX-13TH)
  219. PATRICK J. TIBERI (OH-12TH)
  220. SCOTT R. TIPTON (CO-3D)
  221. NORMA J. TORRES (CA-35TH)
  222. MICHAEL R. TURNER (OH-10TH)
  223. FRED UPTON (MI-6TH)
  224. DAVID G. VALADAO (CA-21ST)
  225. MARC A. VEASEY (TX-33D)
  226. ANN WAGNER (MO-2D)
  227. TIM WALBERG (MI-7TH)
  228. GREG WALDEN (OR-2D)
  229. MARK WALKER (NC-6TH)
  230. JACKIE WALORSKI (IN-2D)
  231. MIMI WALTERS (CA-45TH)
  232. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (FL-23D)
  233. BRAD R. WENSTRUP (OH-2D)
  234. BRUCE WESTERMAN (AR-4TH)
  235. JOE WILSON (SC-2D)
  236. ROBERT J. WITTMAN (VA-1ST)
  237. STEVE WOMACK (AR-3D)
  238. ROB WOODALL (GA-7TH)
  239. DAVID YOUNG (IA-3D)
  240. DON YOUNG (AK-AT LARGE)
  241. LEE M. ZELDIN (NY-1ST)