Data Collection, Mobile Office Hours, and the Senate Farm Bill
NSA Data Collection
Last week, a contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed that the agency is reviewing large amounts of data from cell phone and internet companies. The NSA is looking for patterns that tend to indicate terrorist activity. The data collection requests went through a court review, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The programs are supposed to ensure that they are focused on foreign suspects.
I want to know more about how this data is being collected and used. I also want to be certain our intelligence agencies are confident that they have effective controls in place to ensure data collection on U.S. citizens is not abused and respects Americans’ right to privacy. This is a complex issue, and I think it’s important that we proceed carefully as we learn more. I’ll keep you posted on how this develops, and what comes next. If you have questions or concerns about this program, please email me. We need a robust discussion on this issue, and I welcome your opinions.
Mobile Office Hours—Come See My Staff Next Week
I always encourage constituents to visit my permanent offices in Abilene, Big Spring, and Lubbock. But I know that sometimes, it can be difficult to make the drive from your hometown to one of those locations. So I try to bring my office to you as often as possible. Mobile Office Hours allow my staff to set up shop in your neighborhood so you can talk to them about whatever is on your mind. If you’re having trouble getting your social security benefits, navigating the claims process at Veterans Affairs, or figuring out the naturalization process, we can help. Visit my website to see when we’ll be in your town.
Senate Farm Bill Vote—Today
Tonight, the Senate voted to pass their version of the Farm Bill by a vote of 66 to 27. That's good news for West Texas farmers and ranchers. The House is likely to vote on our version next week. If that passes, we’ll go into a conference process with the Senate. A conference committee will work out the differences in the two bills—and there are a number of differences between the House and Senate farm bills at the moment. The Senate version reduces spending by about $23 billion over ten years, while the House makes about $40 billion in cuts. This chart shows the difference in spending reductions. I’m hopeful that we can keep this process moving, reconcile the differences between the House and Senate, and get a bill signed into law by August. That gives our farmers and ranchers the stability and security they need to make planting decisions for next season.
Action Item: National Defense Authorization Act
This week, I’ll be voting for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is a comprehensive bill that authorizes the budget for the Department of Defense and national security programs at the Department of Energy. It provides the support our troops need—both at home and abroad. It also provides for our national security by making smart investments in our readiness, and helps prepare for our future by controlling spending. You can read a summary of the legislation here.