First Read Flash: Surveillance showdown

Updated
The National Security Agency (NSA) logo is shown on a computer screen inside the Threat Operations Center at the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland, January 25,...
The National Security Agency (NSA) logo is shown on a computer screen inside the Threat Operations Center at the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland, January 25,...
Jason Reed/Reuters

They can still hear you. “After a fierce public debate over balancing national security interests with the privacy of Americans, the House narrowly voted Wednesday to continue a sweeping NSA program that collects phone record data on all American citizens.The vote was 205-217. Ninety-four Republicans and 111 Democrats voted to defund the NSA data collection program,” NBC News reports. “The charge to gut the NSA program, authorized under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, was led by 33-year-old conservative lawmaker Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., whose push forged unlikely alliances on both sides of the issue. Amash argued that the NSA program – leaked by contractor-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden – infringed on the freedom of innocent Americans.” 83 Democrats joined with a majority of Republicans to defeat the bill.

The House vote comes as the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 55% of Americans say they’re worried the U.S. will go to far in violating their privacy rights– that’s a significant shift from post-9/11 numbers, when 55% said they were worried the U.S. wouldn’t go far enough in monitoring potential terrorists. And as Snowden still seeks asylum somewhere, the new poll finds that just 11% of Americans view him positively, while 35% view him negatively.

Student loan compromise reached. “After a series of delays, the Senate passed legislation Wednesday to fundamentally restructure government student loans and reverse the sharp hikes in interest rates that went into effect on July 1,” NBC News reports. “The vote was 81-18, with more than a dozen Democrats voting against the White House-backed plan.  The compromise proposal, which would link interest rates to market prices, was vehemently opposed by liberal Democrats who maintain that its provisions are unfair. In a statement, President Barack Obama lauded the legislation as ‘a major victory for our nation’s students.’”

Let’s talk economy. “President Barack Obama laid out a series of familiar proposals on Tuesday that compose the ‘cornerstones’ of his second-term economic policy agenda, challenging House Republicans to do something that seems unlikely – take action on his ideas,” NBC News reports. “In a major policy speech at a high school in Galesburg, Ill., the president outlined a series of proposals that he argued would boost middle-class security and enable better economic mobility. But Obama also nodded to the political challenges he’s encountered. Washington has ‘taken its eye off the ball’ and gridlock ‘has gotten worse,’ he said, placing the blame squarely with the House GOP.”

First Read Flash: Surveillance showdown

Updated