The Constitution directs the federal government to provide for the common defense. Fulfilling that responsibility requires us to acknowledge that we are at war with Islamic terrorists, that we have been since September 11, 2001 and that the safety of the American people depends on a strong national defense.
I voted against the Amash/Conyers amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill because it would have dismantled a proven and effective intelligence tool in the war on terror that has thwarted over 50 terrorist attacks, including the attempted bombing of Times Square and the New York City subway. While I respect many of my colleagues who voted for the Amash/Conyers amendment, which was opposed by the Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, the fact remains it would have returned the United States to a pre-9/11 mindset and crippled our ability to keep the American people safe.
The NSA program which was the target of the Amash/Conyers amendment does not allow the government to collect information without a special court order or beyond what is already disclosed in an ordinary phone bill, and it has been specifically authorized in statute multiple times. Nevertheless, because I am committed to protecting our civil liberties, I voted for the Pompeo amendment, which will ensure that no funds can be used by the NSA to intentionally target American citizens or store the contents of their communications, and I remain committed to applying additional scrutiny to NSA programs and insist on improvements to them in the Intelligence Reauthorization process.
Like so many Americans, I will never forget the horror of watching my fellow countrymen jump to their deaths out of the top floors of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I will do all I can in Congress to prevent that from ever happening again.