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Public Statements

USA Freedom Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, let me start out by thanking my colleagues for bringing together an incredibly complicated, difficult issue that probably as recently as a couple of months ago no one thought possible. Tremendous, tremendous accolades to Chairman Rogers, to Mr. Ruppersberger, to Mr. Sensenbrenner, to Mr. Conyers on a whole host of issues that, again, are critically important to our Nation.

You have heard the chairman and Mr. Ruppersberger outline some of the key portions of this, but I think it is critically important to stress that the protection of Americans civil liberties must always be a top priority and always will be a top priority. This bipartisan bill underscores the importance of that while keeping our Nation safe.

The USA FREEDOM Act increases transparency. That is something that people have demanded: increased transparency to the American people, and it allows for greater oversight, something else that we listened to that people wanted to see.

It firmly, as Mr. Ruppersberger and Mr. Rogers have stated, ends bulk collection of records. This is critically important.

It reforms the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, to ensure greater checks and balances are placed in such sensitive national security programs.

But as we discuss this, let's not miss the bigger picture. I have had the opportunity to see firsthand in some pretty dark and remote places on the Earth how our enemies are plotting not just on a daily basis, but on a minute-by-minute basis of how to find a chink in our armor, how can they find some gap which will allow them to attack our homeland, to attack our citizens. This is a constant and ongoing threat.

This bill strikes a balance to allow that transparency for civil liberties while it underscores the ability of our intelligence community to be able to do their job. And having been, as Mr. Rogers indicated, firsthand in some very remote places on the Earth, we have got some incredibly dedicated people who are putting their lives at risk every day to protect this country.

This is a good bill. Let's pass it.


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