Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment to defund the NSA’s bulk collection of domestic telephone records failed in the House this afternoon. That’s probably not too surprising given the full court press coming from the president, the leadership of both parties, and the intelligence community. But take a look at the vote count. When was the last time we saw something so genuinely bipartisan? In the end, 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted in favor, and the leaders of both parties—John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer—all joined with President Obama to oppose the amendment and keep the NSA program in place. Despite disagreements at the margin, support for the fundamental structure of the modern national security state truly spans both parties.
On a side note, I’m not sure how to interpret the closeness of the vote. It’s possible that House leaders whipped a bare opposition majority in the short time they had and didn’t bother putting any pressure on the remaining Yes votes. If they had, maybe the vote would have been more lopsided. On the other hand, maybe they got all the votes they could and this was genuinely a close run thing. With a little more work, maybe the Yes side could have won.
And on the bright side, I note that our nation’s major newspapers all deigned to report this on their front pages today. That’s something, at least.