Horsford opposes NSA pursuit of Americans' phone records

WASHINGTON — Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford said he opposes the government collecting telephone records of Americans and would have voted against the practice if he could.

Horsford is at home in Las Vegas recovering from heart surgery and was not present when the House voted Wednesday to continue funding the surveillance program run by the National Security Agency.

In several postings Thursday to his Twitter account, the freshman Democrat said he would have voted in favor of an amendment by Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and John Conyers, D-Mich., to curb the program.

“I would have voted yes on Amash-Conyers re: #NSA bc we must keep our country safe and preserve our civil liberties at the same time,” Horsford wrote.

The Amash amendment was defeated, 205-217. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., voted for the amendment. Reps. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Joe Heck, R-Nev., voted against it.

The amendment was the first big challenge to the controversial surveillance program whose broad scope was disclosed by NSA contract worker Edward Snowden.

Amash and his allies argued it was troubling the NSA was collecting data on individuals who were not under investigation. Others, including the Obama administration and senior lawmakers who oversee intelligence programs, said the program has disrupted a number of terrorist plots.

The data being collected includes telephone numbers and the length of individual calls but not what is being discussed. Investigators said once they are allowed by a court to focus on a specific suspect the data allows them to track that person’s networks of possible wrongdoers.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.