23 Aug 2014
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Ami Bera Explains Vote Against Anti-NSA Amendment

The Amash amendment, which would have defunded the mass-collection of phone data, was voted down in Congress Wednesday.

Ami Bera Explains Vote Against Anti-NSA Amendment
An effort to stop the National Security Agency's mass-collection of telephone records narrowly failed in Congress Wednesday, with Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) voting against it.

He wasn't the only Democrat to oppose the amendment, pushed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). The item failed 205-217, with more Democrats voting for it and the White House condemning it.

Bera, who said in a Patch live-chat last month that "we need to maintain a delicate balance of protecting our individual privacy and also keeping our country safe," explained his vote against the so-called Amash amendment in an email to Patch:

"Congress has an important responsibility to balance protecting our personal freedoms and privacy with America’s national security needs. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act should certainly be thoroughly reviewed to ensure that it continues to strike that balance, but any changes must be enacted carefully to make sure that our intelligence agencies retain the tools they need to protect America. Today, I voted to affirm that intelligence agencies cannot target Americans or acquire and store the content of their communications. I also voted against defunding NSA programs, which would essentially stop the agency from doing its job and endanger our national security."

A separate amendment passed Wednesday limits the National Security Agency from gathering or storing the content of phone calls or emails, POLITICO reports.

Analysts were surprised the vote was as close as it was for the Amash amendment, although the Washington Post points out it probably would have never actually been enacted. 

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What do you think of his vote, and of the government's collection of phone record data? Tell us in the comments section below.

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