Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (Democrat, 1st District) split from the majority of House Democrats yesterday and voted against an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would have limited surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency, while 2nd District Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor of limiting the spy agency’s powers.
Hanabusa is now campaigning to unseat Senator Brian Schatz in the 2014 Democratic Primary. Schatz has been a vocal opponent of unrestrained government surveillance.
The bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Michigan representatives Justin Amash and John Conyers, would have limited surveillance by the NSA and other agencies to persons who are part of a terrorism investigation, reining in the current sweeping surveillance phone records of millions of people.
The amendment failed with 205 in favor and 217 opposed. Those favoring the amendment included the majority of House Democrats and a large minority of Republicans.
In a press release, Gabbard said:
“Countless men and women from my state of Hawai‘i and all across the country have worn the uniform and put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms and our liberties,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, speaking in support of the Amash-Conyers amendment to strip funding from the NSA. “I cannot, in good conscience, vote to take a single dollar from the pockets of hard-working taxpayers from across the country to pay for programs which infringe on the very liberties and freedoms our troops have fought and died for. Ben Franklin said, ‘They who give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.’”
Hanabusa’s office did not comment on her pro-surveillance vote, and instead put out a press release extolling her vote on final passage of the underlying Defense Appropriations bill. The roll call vote shows Gabbard also voted in favor of the bill following defeat of the NSA amendment.