House Votes to Defund NSA ‘Backdoor Spying’ on Americans

Unclear if Senate Will Take Up the Matter

In a move that could potentially have a real effect on NSA reform, the House of Representatives today passed a bill that would defund the NSA carrying out “backdoor spying” against US citizens, insisting that any interception of the communications of Americans absolutely needs explicit warrants.

The vote was 255-174, which sounds good but was actually a fair bit worse than an identical vote last year, which passed 293-123. That version never went anywhere, because the Senate did not pass a comparable bill, and it was eventually stripped out of the final language of the spending bill it was attached to.

Given how divided the Senate has been on all surveillance-related questions this year, it’s probably not going to be much easier for it to pass this time around, and there is no indication yet that the Senate will even give the matter a serious round of consideration.

The White House hasn’t addressed the matter either, but given how averse the administration has been to actual reforms, it is likely that if it starts looking like it’ll get a Senate vote, there will be some serious complaints.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.