Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) released the following statement after helping pass the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361). The bill was modified since Himes helped advance the bill in committee earlier this month.

“While slightly weakened from the version I supported in committee, this bill is far better than the status quo in the balance it strikes between protecting Americans’ privacy and providing for our national security. We are moving in the right direction, and as a member of the Intelligence Committee, I will continue working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure we are better protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

In fact, just this morning, I worked with my colleagues to increase oversight at the NSA by inserting two amendments into the annual intelligence reauthorization bill. These amendments, to ensure Congress is fully informed of legal violations and to create an independent and Senate-confirmed NSA Inspector General, will ensure our intelligence community is considering and protecting our civil liberties and privacy. ”

The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 4661) passed out of committee today with two amendments submitted by Himes.  The first amendment, modeled after the bipartisan NSA Internal Watchdog Act Himes introduced with Reps. Cooper and Smith, provides for an independent and Senate confirmed inspector general, which will have the authority to subpoena former employees and contractors. It also establishes a Chief Legal Officer within the IG’s office which will have legal powers including establishing rules of professional responsibility. The second amendment closes a reporting loophole by requiring an annual report on violations of law or executive order that were determined by an element of the intelligence community to have occurred.