WASHINGTON, D.C.–Cameras are watching you everywhere and the National Security Administration can monitor your phone call, e-mails, internet records and searches and a host of other electronic communication. A measure that would have defunded the government’s ability to do that was shot down in the U.S. House Wednesday and three Mississippi Congressmen were among those voting against that measure, called the “Amash Amendment”.
Congressmen Alan Nunnelee, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo all cast no votes, which means they voted against a plan that would have effectively stopped the NSA from spying on average citizens, while still allowing them to monitor suspected terrorists.
The lone yes vote was Democrat Bennie Thompson, of the Second District, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson has stated before that he would vote to stop the government from being able to gather data on citizens without a warrant.
The amendment was named for Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who said it was authored as part of the Dept. of Defense’s appropriations bill, to keep the governemnt from invoking Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows collection of bulk meta data.
The amendment got its major support from liberals and Democrats. The final vote was 217 to 205 after last-minute lobbying efforts from the White House and the NSA. For Democrats it was a yes vote of 111 to 83. For Republicans the no vote was 134 to 93.
“It’s important that we keep fighting to protect our civil liberties, keep fighting to protect the Constitution. That’s what the American people are asking for,” said Amash. “The White House went on a strong push against it and they really changed the outcome on the Democratic side.”
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) described meta data as nothing more than a five column Excel spreadsheet.
“It’s in a lock box. It can’t even be searched,” he said.
There had been no statement from anyone on Mississippi’s House side on their vote on the amendment as of Thursday morning.