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Enzi targets NSA, financial bureau privacy violations with amendments to defense bill

Also offers additional amendments for ICBM force, religious protections

November 22, 2013

The Senate majority leader continues to block important amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is calling on Harry Reid to allow senators to do their job - offer amendments, debate them, and take votes. Enzi has filed amendments that would rein in the NSA’s domestic spying on Americans and privacy violations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. ICBMs, religious freedoms, Guantanamo detainees, the National Guard, unlawful detention, and military energy standards are also on his list.

“America is at a crossroads, but the majority leader, the one man who controls everything in the Senate, has used a technical procedure to prohibit votes on anything that he doesn’t deem worthy,” said Enzi. “I want you to know what he doesn’t want to expose members of his party to. The NSA is spying on Americans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is collecting our financial records without permission, and the president is threatening to arbitrarily hamstring our nuclear force. All the while our $17 trillion national debt and the disaster of Obamacare are wreaking havoc on our nation. Let’s have the debate about big government’s obsession with spying on Americans and keeping track of every financial decision they make. The American people are ready for us to vote on these issues, why isn’t the majority leader?” said Enzi

Enzi’s NSA amendment would stop the NSA’s broad, sweeping collection of data on Americans’ phone calls. The NSA would still be allowed to carry out investigations that protect our national security, and would be allowed to investigate and collect intelligence on individuals that are the subject of a national security investigation. But the large-scale, indiscriminate surveillance of citizens and their phone records would no longer be allowed.

Enzi’s amendment targeting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would require the agency to obtain the written consent of consumers before collecting any of their financial data. News reports in April 2013 indicated the bureau was collecting information on as many as 10 million Americans and compiling sophisticated, layered consumer profiles including credit card, overdraft, mortgage and student loan information on individuals. Most recently, reports indicate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking to monitor four out of every five U.S. credit card transactions this year – up to 42 billion transactions. The agency also has the goal of monitoring up to 95 percent of all mortgage transactions. 

The senator is also offering an amendment that would help protect the religious freedoms of those serving in our military. Recently, there have been several instances of the Pentagon’s top officials meeting with anti-Christian groups behind closed doors regarding religious policy. Last month, for example, after speaking with an anti-religious group, the Air Force decided to remove the phrase “so help me God” from its Cadet Honor Oath. The goal of this amendment is to bring to light future meetings with these anti-religious groups before they result in the creation or enforcement of regulations that limit religious freedoms.

Enzi is also cosponsoring the following amendments to the NDAA:

  • An amendment by Senator Lee, R-Utah, and Senator  Feinstein, D-Calif., that clarifies that authorizations to use military force are not to be construed to permit detention of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents in the United States.
  • An amendment by Senator Ayotte, R-N.H., that inserts a prohibition on the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to the United States.
  • An amendment by Senator Risch, R-Idaho, that requires a review of the Pentagon’s energy policies, including an assessment of costs incurred to meet renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates. Given our current fiscal situation, Enzi believes it doesn’t make sense to prohibit the military from using traditional sources of energy for fuel, like coal, with are much cheaper.
  • An amendment by Senator Barrasso, R-Wyo., that authorizes the National Guard to execute firefighting homeland defense missions under state status, instead of federal status.
The Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of S. 1197, the NDAA, on December 9.