House GOP Unveils Border Funding Bill
On Tuesday, House Republicans revealed their emergency funding bill for the border crisis. Their package totals $659 million, much lower than the $3.7 billion President Barack Obama requested.
With the August recess beginning on Friday, there is not much time left to pass legislation dealing with the crisis on the Southwest border. According to Politico, Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio said, “I think there is sufficient support in the House to move this bill. We have a little more work to do, though. We should do something before we go home.”
The bill contains language making it easier for the government to deport unaccompanied minors, meaning few Democrats are likely to vote for it. To pass the House without Democratic assistance, the Republicans cannot have more than 17 of their Members vote against the bill. Some have already spoken out against the plan, such as Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama who said, “That is money America does not have.” Most House Republicans back the bill, like Representative Tim Walberg of Michigan who, according to the National Journal, said, “It’s what the American people expect, and it’s the right thing to do.” Or as Representative Tom McClintock of California put it, “This has an overwhelmingly strong consensus in the conference.” The vote is expected to come later on Tuesday.
Senator Leahy Introduces NSA Reform Bill
On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced an update to the USA Freedom Act, designed to limit the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance operations as well require greater transparency from the intelligence community. The legislation has bipartisan co-sponsors, and has earned the support of technology companies and privacy groups.
Senator Leahy explained that the bill would “represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago,” according the Politico. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican who originally co-sponsored the legislation in October, said it its “absolutely necessary, and it can be implemented in a way that will allow the government to protect us.”
The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, whose members include Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, issued a statement saying, “The bill will help restore trust in the Internet by ending the government’s bulk Internet metadata collection and increasing transparency around U.S. surveillance practices.”
Since the August recess will begin later this week, Senator Leahy said he would circumvent the Committee in order to bring the bill to a vote on the Senate Floor.
Senator Leahy had also sponsored a different privacy bill that passed the House in May, but after tech and civil liberties groups failed to support it, the bill stalled. Now this new bill is attracting criticism from some legislators inclined to support the NSA. According to The Hill, Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “We need a full and complete debate on it, and not just Sen. Leahy’s side of it, so to speak.”
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