Last month, in the wake of revelations about the scope of the National Security Agency\’s data-collection program, the Democrat from Connecticut\’s 4th District called for a \”national conversation\” on the matter. \”[W]e need to draw some bright lines around where and when government can encroach on ancient civil liberties,” he wrote in an email to supporters in mid-June. “It’s a cliché to say so, but keep going down this path, and the terrorists do win by causing us to twist our own free country into something none of us would recognize or embrace.”
Which makes his \”no\” vote Wednesday on the Amash amendment surprising. The amendment, proposed by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, would have defunded the program.
The measure gained bipartisan backing; three Democrats in the Connecticut delegation –John Larson, Joe Courtney and Rosa DeLauro all supported it.
But Himes, along with 5th District Democrat Elizabeth Esty, did not. Late Wednesday, he explained why in a statement, after the jump:
“I have long been critical of the PATRIOT Act and the extent of the authority it provides to the federal government to monitor the everyday activities of innocent Americans. I have never voted to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act and believe we need to scale back the surveillance authorities it provides to the government. Defunding a significant intelligence program without a Congress-wide debate on its merits is imprudent. I take seriously the need to revisit the scope of the federal government’s monitoring programs and look forward to working with my colleagues to find a plan that both protects our civil liberties and ensures the intelligence community has the tools they need to find terrorists and root out their plans before they strike.