Massie Cosponsors Landmark Legislation to Defund Government Surveillance of Innocent Americans
“Our government has clearly violated the Fourth Amendment by collecting information on millions of Americans”
WASHINGTON – Rep. Massie (R-KY), cosponsored landmark legislation this week that would have prevented the National Security Agency from indiscriminately collecting of millions of Americans' phone records. The amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, authored by Rep. Amash (R-MI), and cosponsored by Reps Massie (R-KY), Conyers (D-MI), Mulvaney (R-SC), and Polis (D-CO), received wide bipartisan support but failed 217 to 205.
“Our government has clearly violated the Fourth Amendment by collecting information on millions of Americans. Our country's war for independence was partially motivated by the King's abuse of general warrants… the equivalent of today's indiscriminate snooping on millions of Americans,” said Massie. “In order to issue warrants, our founders wisely required 'probable cause,' and 'particular descriptions of the persons and things to be seized' in the Fourth Amendment. Even today, those words leave no room for the well-intentioned but unhealthy domestic spying being practiced at the NSA.”
The President referenced the Patriot Act as congressional authorization for the government's activity, but the bill's original author, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), has stated that it was never the intent of his legislation to allow for mass data collection. The amendment failed after intense debate on the House floor where a bipartisan coalition, including Rep. Sensenbrenner, argued to stop the NSA’s unconstitutional practice of collecting private records without probable cause.
The vote on this amendment was the most recent of Congressman Massie’s repeated efforts to protect Americans’ civil liberties. On April 18, 2013 Massie voted against the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act, legislation that entices private corporations into collecting and providing even more data to the federal government. It passed the House but has yet to pass the Senate. Massie is an original cosponsor of the LIBERT-E Act, which would make the secret FISA court rulings open to members of Congress and require declassified versions of these rulings be made available to the public.
“House leadership tried to prevent a debate and a vote on this crucial amendment, to the consternation of congressmen from both parties,” Rep. Massie continued. “Although the amendment didn’t pass, the vote facilitated a long overdue debate on domestic spying and allowed all Members of Congress the opportunity to demonstrate their views on the balance between national security and personal liberty.”
This was the first time the House of Representatives held a vote on this controversial issue since the story broke that the NSA has been snooping on millions of Americans. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) joined Massie in voting to prevent the federal government from collecting the phone records of all Americans.