On Wednesday, July 24, the House of Representatives voted to continue the National Security Agency's dragnet domestic surveillance programs. An amendment, introduced by Representative Justin Amash, R-Mich., to the 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, would have blocked funding for NSA surveillance activities that are not limited to specific persons of interest. It was rejected by a vote of 205-217.
As much as 70 percent of the money appropriated to the NSA by Congress is used to pay private defense companies to conduct intelligence operations, though the details of the NSA's budget and contracts with private companies are classified. Federal budget experts estimate the NSA's budget to be somewhere between $10 billion to $20 billion per year.
Data: A MapLight analysis of campaign contributions from employees and PACs of defense contractors and other defense industry interests, to current members of the House, from January 1, 2011—December 31, 2012. Contributions data source: OpenSecrets.org
- Representatives voting to continue the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs received on average 122 percent more money ($41,635) from defense contractors and other defense industry interests than did representatives who voted to end the programs (18,765).
- Representative Justin Amash, R-Mich., the chief sponsor of the amendment, has received $1,400 from defense contractors and other defense industry interests.
- Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., has received $526,600 from defense contractors and other defense industry interests, more than any other member of the House. He voted to continue the programs.
Image of House member Justin Amash: Gage Skidmore/Flickr