Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. (File/UPI Photo/Patrick D. McDermott) | License Photo
Despite a lack of support from Republican leadership -- and the White House and National Security Agency lobbying against it -- an amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) that would limit the NSA's bulk collection of phone data made it to a vote.
But the House narrowly defeated the measure 217-205 on Wednesday.
Amash's measure, offered as an amendment to the Department of Defense appropriations bill, would have prevented the government from invoking Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect phone call metadata unless the government had reasonable suspicion that a specific target was involved in terrorism.
The controversial measure had support from some conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Ultimately, Democrats voted 111-83 in favor of the amendment and Republicans voted 134-94 against.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas -- who voted for the Amash amendment -- gave a nearly hour-long speech on Thursday comparing the NSA's surveillance program to using a search warrant for stolen potato chips to bust marijuana smokers.
Gohmert recalled a deputy intent on busting pot smokers in a small community.
"I know they’re smoking dope out there, I just know it," Gohmert said the deputy told him. "I’ve set out there and surveilled their house, and I haven’t seen them with dope but I know they’ve got it."
Then one day the deputy requested a warrant because someone had stolen potato chips from a convenience store.
"Well, the place I’ve been surveilling and watching, I found out absolutely for sure, they’re having a party Friday night and they’re going to have potato chips there," Gohmert recalled the deputy telling him. "So, all I need is a warrant to go look for potato chips and while I’m there, I’ll find the dope."
"We don’t want the Muslim Brotherhood running our country… but they’re there," Gohmert said.
"But that’s no reason for us to voluntarily to give up all our liberty, give up privacy," he added. "When you give up the liberty, you’ve given it up."