An amendment that would have limited a phone records collection program run by the National Security Agency failed in the House of Representatives, this afternoon.
The vote was close — 217 to 205 — but more importantly it cobbled together a rare bipartisan coalition. The amendment was opposed by President Obama as well as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). But it was championed by those on the left and right wings of the House.
Wired Magazine explains this was also a rare moment when a classified program was discussed openly on the floor. As expected, it caused deep divisions:
“The amendment (.pdf), one of dozens considered, was proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan). ‘The government collects the phone records without suspicion of every single American of the United States,’ he said during heated debate on the measure.
“Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), in urging a no vote, said ‘Passing this amendment takes us back to September 10.'”
This amendment, by the way, was spurred by the leaks of classified information by Edward Snowden.
The New York Times explains the amendment:
“It would have limited N.S.A. phone surveillance to specific targets of law-enforcement investigations, not broad dragnets. It was only one of a series of proposals — from restricting funds for Syrian rebels to adding congressional oversight to foreign aid to Egypt — designed to check President Obama’s foreign and intelligence policies.”
(This post was updated at 10 p.m. ET to fix that Speaker John Boehner represents Ohio, not Kentucky.)