This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) that would have prohibited the Agriculture Department from storing data at facilities in foreign countries. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Agriculture Department programs.
Lipinski urged support for his amendment: “There is no reason for essential government data to be stored in offshore facilities, and the USDA has recognized that fact. In cloud computing contracts signed by the USDA, Secretary Vilsack and CIO Chris Smith have insisted that all data must be stored in the United States. This amendment seeks to reinforce and codify USDA contracts' terms specifically regarding where the data is stored. That is all that this speaks to. It says that this contract, in regards to where the data is stored, will be codified with this amendment. Now, why is this important? It's critical for security reasons. We shouldn't have to worry about another nation seizing the infrastructure where our data is stored. It's critical for reliability reasons. We don't want another country, either intentionally or accidentally, disconnecting us from the servers we need to run our government.”
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) opposed the amendment: “…I am very reluctant to tie the hands of the USDA [the Agriculture Department] in seeking the best contract. I want them to do what a business would do and be free from micromanagement by the U.S. Congress. If the location is outside of the United States or the location is in Illinois or in Georgia or in California, I want them to do what is best for the USDA and the best for the taxpayers. As I understand this amendment, it would limit that sort of flexibility. So I oppose the amendment; but I want to say to the gentleman from Illinois, I certainly will continue a dialogue with you on this, because I do realize I need to learn more about it. But on that basis, I do not want to tie their hands based on location.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 162-254. Voting “yea” were 94 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 68 Republicans. 167 Republicans and 87 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited the Agriculture Department from storing data in facilities in foreign countries.