SALEM — Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, joined with seven of the eight members of the Bay State’s Congressional delegation Wednesday in a failed bid to halt the National Security Agency’s program to collect phone records on millions of Americans.
“We have to get a better system,” Tierney said in an interview, indicating that it should be one that does not make such a broad sweep of records as the present surveillance program does.
Democrat Seth Moulton of Salem, who has already launched a campaign to challenge Tierney in the primary for the 6th District seat next year, said through a spokeswoman that he would have voted against the measure to halt the surveillance program.
“I have seen our enemies and understand the danger they present,” Moulton, a former Marine, said in an email. “There needs to be limits on the NSA, but I believe we can preserve and protect our nation, its citizens and our freedom without blanket restrictions on those charged with our nation’s safety.”
Moulton served four tours of duty in Iraq, part of that time as a special assistant to then-Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and as a counterinsurgency adviser south of Baghdad.
The effort to stop the surveillance program came as an amendment to the 2014 defense spending bill. The House defeated the amendment, which would have killed the program, by a vote of 217-205.
The vote did not fall along the usual party lines; 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted to halt the surveillance program, while 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted to keep it. Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, D-Brookline, was the only member of the Massachusetts delegation who voted to save the program.
The effort to save the program got backing from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as well as from President Obama.