It’s almost like a unicorn sighting. For decades, some of us have theorized that if only freedom-loving libertarians on the right could join with freedom-loving liberals on the left, they could strike a blow against over-reaching, intrusive government. Yesterday, a bipartisan coalition in the House (!) came within 7 votes of pulling it off.
The vote came on an amendment to a Defense authorization bill that would have stripped the NSA of its access to the phone records of millions of Americans suspected of no crime. Rep. Justin Amash, R-MI, authored the amendment, which was strongly opposed by Speaker John Boehner, the Obama administration and the intelligence establishment both inside and outside Congress. But, inspired by calls from constituents angry about the loss of privacy rights, 94 Republicans bucked their leadership to support the amendment, while 111 Democrats – a majority of the caucus – joined them. Of the eight Democrats in the Massachusetts delegation, only Joe Kennedy III voted to keep the program.
Tea Party Republican Raul Labrador, R-ID, called it the “wing nut coalition.” One of its members, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, is focused on the next round. He predicts the section of the Patriot Act authorizing the NSA program will be allowed to expire in 2015. Rolling back the Patriot Act? Go wing nuts!