NSA snooping
Could Congress finally jettison the much-detested NSA phone snooping?Getty

The US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to ban mass collection of American phone records by the snoops at the National Security Agency.

The 338-88 vote backing the USA Freedom Act comes as opponents of spying on law-abiding citizens grow more hopeful as the legislation builds momentum.

It's now up to the Senate, which is currently locked in a stalemate. But there's just six working days to take action before the expiration of a key section of the controversial 2001 Patriot Act that the NSA has used to justify its spying.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now facing heat from his own Republican party. He has proposed extending the Patriot Act without changes, but several senators, including GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul, have pledged to filibuster to block that move, reports Politico.

The USA Freedom Law has drawn support from rare coalition of Republicans and Democrats as well as backing from the White House. It's the latest effort to reform the vast NSA spying operation first bared by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.

Adding fuel to the momentum against NSA domestic snooping is a federal appeals court decision last week declaring the government's phone records operation illegal.

"In light of last week's ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that the government's bulk collection program exceeds what is authorised under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the Senate should waste no time defending a program that has been ruled unlawful and take up the USA Freedom Act as soon as possible," said GOP House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia.