Monday, July 29, 2013 | 5:21 p.m.
Democratic congressional candidate Erin Bilbray said Monday she would have voted to defund the National Security Agency’s collection of phone data of millions of Americans.
Bilbray’s stance stands in contrast to that of her opponent, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who voted last week against the amendment from Michigan Rep. Justin Amash to defund the program.
The House voted down the amendment in a close 217-205 vote that was more about civil liberties and national security than political party.
“I don't have the security briefings of members of Congress, but with the public information I have available to me, yes, I would have voted in favor of the Amash amendment,” Bilbray said in an email response to a question about how she would have voted on the measure. “As a mother, I believe we must be aggressive in protecting our families against terrorist threats, but as a native Nevadan, I believe strongly in keeping the government out of our private lives. The possible constitutional overreaches are disturbing. These are the Nevada values I will take to Congress.”
Heck noted in a press release last week explaining his vote that he is privy to security briefings and keeps concerns about civil liberties in the forefront of national security discussions.
“The Amash amendment would have eliminated Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which we know has thwarted 54 terrorist plots against the U.S. (and counting),” he said in a press release last week. “I believe these programs are critical to maintaining our national security and keeping Americans safe. The Amash amendment was a blunt instrument that would severely damage our intelligence collection capabilities and put Americans at risk.”
Among Nevada’s Congressional delegation, Heck joined Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in voting against the amendment. Republican Rep. Mark Amodei voted for it, and Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford said he would’ve voted for it had he been in Washington for the vote. Horsford is at home in Las Vegas recovering from a recent heart surgery.
Amodei represents Nevada’s Congressional District 2 in Northern Nevada. Horsford represents Congressional District 4, which encompasses North Las Vegas, Pahrump and much of rural Nevada.
Titus in Congressional District 1 and Heck in Congressional District 3 represent the densely populated areas of Las Vegas and Henderson, with Heck’s district stretching southward to the state’s border.