Amash–Conyers Amendment

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Rep. Justin Amash
Rep. John Conyers

The Amash–Conyers Amendment was a proposal to end the "NSA's blanket collection of Americans' telephone records", sponsored by Justin Amash and John Conyers in the US House of Representatives.[1] The measure was voted down, 217 to 205.


Amash–Conyers Amendment
Great Seal of the United States
Full titleAn amendment to end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. It would also bar the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.
Introduced in113th United States Congress
Introduced onJuly 24, 2013
Sponsored byJustin Amash, John Conyers
Legislative history

In the wake of the 2013 surveillance disclosures, members of the House considered a reform amendment that would limit bulk data collection.

Rep. Conyers described his reactions to the disclosures as saying "It was shocking and disappointing that we went this far. I'm not happy about it."[2][3]

Proposed amendment[edit]

The proposal was to amend the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.[4] According to Amash, the amendment[1][5]

  • "sought to bar the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records", thereby ending the mass surveillance of Americans. Instead, it permitted "the FISA court under Sec. 215 to order the production of records that pertain only to a person under investigation".
  • would have permitted the continued use of business records and other "tangible things" if the data were "actually related to an authorized counter-terrorism investigation".
  • would have required judicial oversight with "a substantive, statutory standard to apply to make sure the NSA does not violate Americans' civil liberties".


Notable opposition to the amendment came from Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, the senior leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, Keith Alexander, and the Obama administration.[2] The Obama administration statement criticized the amendment for being a "blunt approach", saying "We urge the House to reject the Amash amendment and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation."[2][6] General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, gave an "emergency" four-hour briefing for House members in which he "implored legislators that preventing his agency from collecting the phone records on millions of Americans would have dire consequences for national security."[6][7]


  Democratic yea
  Democratic nay
  Republican yea
  Republican nay
  Absent or no representative seated

On July 24, 2013, the amendment was considered by the House of Representatives. The measure was "narrowly defeated" by a vote of 217 to 205.[2][8][9]

The vote was noticed for its unusual split, described as "one of the most unusual votes taken in the House in a long time."[10] It garnered both bi-partisan support and bi-partisan opposition: 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted for the amendment. It was opposed by 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats.[11] House leaders from both parties opposed the amendment.[6] The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee released a joint statement opposing the amendment, arguing it would have "eliminated a crucial counterterrorism tool".[6][12][13]

An analysis indicated that those who voted against the amendment received 122% more in campaign contributions from defense contractors than those who voted in favor.[14]

List of votes[edit]

YEAS 205
NAYS 217

By State


  1. ^ a b "Amash NSA Amendment Fact Sheet | Congressman Justin Amash". 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  2. ^ a b c d "US House rejects Amash-Conyers amendment on NSA surveillance powers". GlobalPost. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  3. ^ Peterson, Andrea (2013-07-24). "Why Rep. John Conyers wants to defund NSA's phone snooping". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  4. ^ "How Amash Amendment Blocks NSA Spying". Business Insider. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  5. ^ "Partisanship and Opportunities for Additional Bipartisanship in Tech Immigration and Privacy Reform". Master's Capstone Projects (UCLA). 2013-12-13.
  6. ^ a b c d Spencer Ackerman in Washington. "NSA surveillance: narrow defeat for amendment to restrict data collection | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  7. ^ "NSA's Keith Alexander Calls Emergency Private Briefing To Lobby Against Justin Amash Amendment Curtailing Its Power". 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  8. ^ "H.Amdt. 413 (Amash) to H.R. 2397: Amendment sought to end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot ..." 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  9. ^ "Amash-Conyers anti-NSA amendment lost by just 12 votes, 205-217". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  10. ^ "Chris Hayes And David Sirota Have 4-Hour Erection Over Amash Amendment". Mediaite. 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  11. ^ "Mapping the Vote to Limit the NSA via Amash-Conyers Amendment - Hit & Run". 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  12. ^ "Joint Statement by House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger on the Defeat of the Amash Amendment | The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence". 2013-07-24. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  13. ^ "Joint Statement on the Defeat of the Amash Amendment". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  14. ^ Kravets, David (July 26, 2013). "Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash". Retrieved August 3, 2013.

External links[edit]