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Floor Statement on Surveillance of Americans

Jul 25, 2013
Floor Statement
Ruppersberger Urges Members to Support Amendment #147
I rise in support of the Nugent amendment.
This Amendment strongly reaffirms that in America, privacy and security can—and must—co-exist. 
This Amendment states in no uncertain terms that the Government cannot use Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA, to intentionally target an American for surveillance.  
This important amendment also reaffirms that the phone conversations cannot be collected through Section 215 of the Patriot Act. 
It makes the intentions of Congress very clear.  
I believe the Nugent Amendment makes a powerful statement that NSA cannot target Americans for collection or listen to their phone calls.   I urge my colleagues to vote ‘YES’. 
However, I understand the concerns of the American people and of Congress when it comes to these programs.  
On the House Intelligence Committee, we are reviewing and evaluating potential ways to change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that will provide the Intelligence Community with the tools it needs to keep our country safe while also protecting privacy and civil liberties.
We are committed to having this important discussion.    
However, I do have concerns about the amendment we will debate next.  
The Amash amendment is an ON/OFF switch for this Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  
It will have an immediate operational impact and our country will be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.  
This authority has helped prevent terrorist attacks on U-S soil.  
A planned attack on the New York subway system was stopped because of Section 215.  
But if the Amash amendment passes… this authority will end. 
This amendment goes too far, too fast on the wrong legislative vehicle.  
We need to debate the scope of this program and we are… but this is an extreme, knee jerk reaction to the situation.   
This program has been authorized and reauthorized by Congress.  
It receives extensive oversight by the Intelligence Committee and is a vital tool for our Intelligence Community to protect our nation.  
Remember, 9/11 happened, in part, because we failed to connect the dots.  One of the critical tools we now use to connect those dots is Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  
Remember this is just phone records – just phone numbers – no conversations.  
I respectfully urge a “No” vote on the Amash Amendment and a “Yes” vote on Nugent.  
Mr. Speaker, I yield back.