Following a surprisingly close vote on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening, the libertarian congressman who tried to stop the National Security Agency’s blanketing collection of domestic phone records vowed to further his fight against NSA surveillance.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) was unsuccessful with his attempt to tack an amendment on to an upcoming Pentagon appropriations bill Wednesday night that would have barred the NSA from using a PATRIOT Act provision to collect the phone records of all Americans. But despite being relatively new to DC politics, the 33-year-old lawmaker garnered support from both sides of the aisle before and after an evening of heated testimony that ended with a 205-217 vote that shut-down his amendment, co-sponsored by colleague Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan).
Amash opened the evening’s argument by telling other members of Congress, “We are here to answer one question for the people we represent: do we oppose the suspicionless collection of American’s phone records?” He concluded around half-an-hour of intense arguments by asking the same question of his colleagues, then watching his attempt to overhaul the NSA narrowly be wiped away.
But although Amash and his fellow pro-privacy advocates suffered defeat this week, many of those who supported the amendment saw the loss as just the first step in a much broader fight.
“We came close (205-217). If just 7 Reps had switched their votes, we would have succeeded. Thank YOU for making a difference. We fight on,” Amash tweeted Wednesday evening.