White House Seems Afraid NSA Defunding Law Could Actually Pass Today

A law to defund the National Security Agency’s Internet dragnet program is gaining surprising momentum. The House of Representatives’ vote today on Michigan Republican Justin Amash’s proposal has gained so much support that the White House is officially urging Congress to reject it. “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment,” read a statement from White House Spokesman Jay Carney.

Rep. Amash (CrunchGov Grade: B) is proposing an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would deny the NSA the ability to spend money on any program that broadly spied on Americans. When it was clear that Rep. Amash would actually make it to the House floor for a vote, political leaders took the highly unusual step of dispatching NSA head General Keith Alexander for an emergency meeting with House Republicans and Democrats (a separate caucus with each party).

The law is a transparent libertarian Hail Mary pass, so it difficult to know whether it really has a shot. At the very least, as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf notes, we’ll know exactly how each member of the House feels on the NSA after the vote–and that will be a victory for transparency regardless of the outcome.