The amendment, offered by Michigan Republican Justin Amash, truly demonstrated how little difference there is between Democratic and Republican leadership. It also showed how Edward Snowden's revelations not only made a difference, but showed how strong the support for his take on the wrongness of the NSA spying is.
Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer pushed democrats to vote against the amendment to block NSA's Prism spy program. The 216 to 205 vote split both Democrats and Republicans. A swing of just seven votes could have made the vote succeed. This is not over.
Democrats voted for the amendment by a 111-to-83
Republicans voted 134 "for" versus 93 against it.
The record of how the house members voted is here.
Bottom-line-- house Republicans, led by John Boehner, helped President Obama get the results he wanted, while a majority of House democrats, bucking the leadership of Pelosi and Hoyer, voted against Obama.
Justin Amash, a 33 year old Michigan Republican, has a record of opposing John Boehner and the Republican leadership. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor joined with the Democratic leadership to oppose the bill.
John Conyers was one of the Democrats who led the effort to pass the amendment. Obama sent a message to the house warning that the amendment would make the US less safe and the NSA's claim that 54 terrorist attacks were stopped because of the spying was brandished.
The Huffingtonpost reported that Amash, said, as he was introducing the bill,
"We're here today for a very simple reason: to defend the Fourth Amendment, to defend the privacy of each and every American," Amash said as he introduced his measure. Lawmakers' votes, he said, would answer one simple question, "Do we oppose the suspicionless collection of every American's phone records?"
Pointing to a Wall Street Journal editorial that came out Wednesday, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) contended that passing the amendment would reward Snowden.
In 2005, Pelosi was stridently opposed to the section of the Patriot Act under debate now. She called the provisions being reauthorized a "massive invasion of privacy." But on Wednesday, she voted against reining in the Patriot Act.
The candidate who defeated Dennis Kucinich, a supposed progressive-- Marcy Kaptur (OH)-- voted against the amendment. So did supposed progressive Jan Schakowsky.
John Conyers, noting that the house leadership and the White House had lobbied heavily against the bill, said, "... the fact that they won this narrowly means they still are worried -- because this thing isn't over yet. This is just the beginning."
Glancing at the ayes and noes in the congressional roll call, freshman Democrats voted with Pelosi-- likely a sign that the money the Democrat leadership wields to elect members made a difference in this vote.
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, said today: " Given the combined opposition of the GOP leadership in the House and the Democratic establishment in the White House, it is remarkable that a band of conscientious members of Congress could find common cause across the partisan aisle and nearly win a surprise vote to de-fund the NSA through the defense appropriations process. With members of Congress poised to hear widespread concerns from their constituents during the upcoming August recess, the battle over dragnet spying is far from over. Indeed, for the first time in a decade, America and our Constitution have gained the upper hand on the military-intelligence- industrial complex."
Maybe it's time for the Democrats who voted For this amendment to throw Pelosi and Hoyer out, as step towards taking back the Democratic party from centrist DLC Republican wannabes.
And maybe this is THE issue that progressives and Tea Partiers can agree on to at least shake up the corporatists running the congress and the executive branch.
Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.