What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Government Surveillance of Citizens : (H.R. 1) On an amendment that would have prohibited federal funds from being used by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain access to library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, or book customer lists. (2011 house Roll Call 95)
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(H.R. 1) On an amendment that would have prohibited federal funds from being used by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain access to library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, or book customer lists.
house Roll Call 95     Feb 18, 2011
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that would have prohibited federal funds from being used by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain access to library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, or book customer lists. This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.

Nadler urged support for his amendment: “The amendment is very narrowly drawn to protect the privacy of all Americans from unwarranted governmental investigation in an area directly related to their beliefs and private thoughts. What we read, where we read, what we listen to, our interests, the type of information we seek, our private tastes in art and music all tell a great deal about us. The right to be free from the prying eyes of government in these areas is absolutely necessary to protect our rights of free speech, religious liberty, liberty of conscience, freedom of association and political freedom. This amendment will not prevent the government from obtaining this type of information provided it obtains the constitutionally required warrant.”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) opposed the amendment: “Applications for…orders seeking library circulation records and book sales records may only be approved by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Deputy Bureau of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Executive Assistant Director for National Security….There is absolutely no evidence that this authority has been abused or misused to unlawfully acquire library or business records. This prohibition could create a safe haven for terrorists to utilize America's libraries and bookstores to conduct research or communicate with each other.”

The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 196-231. 164 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 32 Republicans voted “yea.” 206 Republicans and 25 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain access to library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, or book customer lists.

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