WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX), released the following statement regarding House passage of H.R.2397, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014:
“Our federal government's primary responsibility, under the Constitution, is to provide for the common defense for Americans by protecting our country from every potential enemy. Yesterday, I voted FOR and the House passed H.R. 2397 by a vote of 315 AYES to 109 NOES, to ensure that we have the critical funding for a strong national defense and critical security programs. This bill also includes funding to provide protection for our nation’s troops and their families. I strongly believe that Congress must continue to support a strong military presence and those individuals who selflessly serve our country to protect our freedoms and liberties.
“In light of recent news regarding the NSA’s metadata collection and PRISM programs, I felt that it was important to consider all amendments to further protect our Constitutional rights. In this regard, two amendments related to the NSA metadata program were available for inclusion in H.R. 2397—Congressman Mike Pompeo’s (R-KS / originally introduced by Rep. Nugent) amendment and Congressman Justin Amash’s (R-MI) amendment. After a detailed review, I voted FOR Rep. Pompeo’s amendment. This amendment would ensure NO taxpayer funds are used by the NSA to target U.S. citizens or to acquire and store the content of U.S. citizen’s communications, including phone calls and e-mails. This amendment further clarifies that the government is not permitted to listen to or store Americans’ telephone conversations without a warrant. This amendment passed by a bi-partisan vote of 409 AYES to 12 NOES. The amendment by Rep. Amash would have prevented the collection and analysis of any ‘tangible things’ (see amendment language) in America — this could protect the data of terrorists who are operating in this country and make our nation vulnerable to future terrorist attacks. The restrictions proposed by this awkwardly constructed amendment were of great concern to me. In addition, the Heritage Foundation wrote an analysis that stated the Amash amendment would take the wrong approach to our national security; they also felt that the Amash amendment would possibly be unconstitutional because if its feature whereby Congress would be attempting to force federal courts to include certain provisions in their orders. This amendment failed by a vote of 217 NOES to 205 AYES.
“Since the Snowden leaks, I have participated in several classified briefings regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) metadata and PRISM programs. Based upon what I learned from those meetings, I know that these programs have helped thwart terrorist attacks in the past. It is also my opinion from those meetings that the NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) personnel involved are working hard to comply with the law, to protect our Constitutional liberties, and to keep America safe. I believe that with improved Congressional oversight, these programs will be effective tools to prevent terrorist attacks in the future. Nonetheless, I have serious reservations about the two individuals who are ultimately responsible for the management of these programs – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder. I remain extremely concerned about their honesty, leadership and commitment to protecting our Constitutionally guaranteed liberties. As such, I will redouble my efforts to have them removed from their federal positions as soon as possible. Continued Congressional oversight coupled with the terminations of Clapper and Holder will help restore trust in these important programs to fight terrorism without compromising our liberties or creating gaps in our intelligence structure. In addition, their resignations may partially restore Americans' trust in their federal government.”
Congressman Flores also successfully added an amendment to H.R. 2397, which prevents funds from being used to enforce Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act. Section 526 inappropriately prevents federal agencies from securing fuel from non-conventional sources such as coal-to-liquids, oil shale and oil sands. This amendment ensures that the military and federal agencies have access to more stable, domestic and cost-effective fuel resources.
House Republicans remain committed to reform the expenditure of taxpayer dollars without undermining the safety, security, or success of our nation’s armed forces and American citizens.