Justin Amash and the People Who Could Beat the NSA

The face of NSA opposition

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

My piece from last night looks at the strategy that went into this week’s near-miss vote on stopping the NSA’s collection data. It was, advocates swear, a better showing than they expected, which they credit to the appeal of Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican. It will add to the plans they had for the August recess: collecting and directing voter anger at the NSA, now registering above 50 percent in polls, and making it tough to stop Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, as his allies push for new legislation in the Senate. Oh, and before anyone gets there, Sen. Pat Leahy’s Judiciary Committee is holding hearings.

Back to the amendment, though. The best read on how this ever came up for a vote comes from Jake Sherman, who talked to Republicans deeply annoyed at how the young and affable Amash got to be the face of the amendment.

It’s unfortunate, those Republicans said, that his brand became intertwined with this vote.

Some Republicans worry the vote will only encourage Amash to keep defying leadership.

“He’s clearly one of the most powerful members,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a former Army lawyer who serves on the Intelligence Committee. Rooney voted against the amendment.

“It does,” Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford, a member of leadership, said when asked if this vote will embolden the Michigan Republican.

Reading between the lines, this is pretty hilarious. Amash suffered no damage for voting against Boehner for speaker. And the consequences will be … what? Apart from removing Amash from a committee, Boehner’s never shown any desire to exercise his whip hand and control wayward members.

But Amash isn’t really the point. Too many other people in Congress want a piece of this.