As Section 215 of the Patriot Act lapses, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the USA Freedom Act sending the bill back to congress with amendments. Now the Freedom Act heads back to congress where they will review – and likely approve – the amendments added by the Senate.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the provision that gives the NSA, or the provision the NSA believes gives it the authority, to collect mass phone records. Interestingly enough, a US Supreme court recently ruled the NSA’s interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, and the collection of data, illegal.
As we pointed out a week ago, the Senate was unable to come up with any solution that would stop the provisions from expiring. This caused lawmakers to go into panic-mode and work into the Memorial Day vacation to find a common ground that would be met in both the House and the Senate. As the June 1st deadline grew closer, it became clear how far members of both chambers would be willing to go in order to achieve a resolution to the deadline.
USA Freedom Act gets the support it needs
End the end it was 21 lawmakers that switched there positions from last week. Last week’s vote on the Freedom Act was three votes shy of passing and after feeling the pressure from different angles the bill ended up gathering more than enough support to get passed. When it was all said and done 20 republicans changed their support as did Independent Angus King from Maine. House speaker John Boehner was one of many urging the Senate to act on the bill.
“Al-Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorists around the globe continue to plot attacks on America and our allies,” Boehner said. “Anyone who is satisfied with letting this critical intelligence capability go dark isn’t taking the terrorist threat seriously. I’d urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, and do so expeditiously.”
McConnell finally gives in.
Senator Mitch McConnell, who supports the NSA’s practices, initially wanted to extend their powers for years to come, but was forced to settle and support a much different plan for the NSA than he had in mind. At one point McConnell introduced a bill extending the powers of the NSA until 2020, but this bill was quickly dismissed in favor of the USA Freedom Act. As the deadline grew near, and after his own bill failed, McConnell unsuccessfully asked to for small extension to come up with another plan. In the end, McConnell was forced to gather support among fellow lawmakers in favor of the USA Freedom Act or live with the NSA coming to a screeching halt.
“It’s now the only realistic way forward,” McConnell admitted on the Senate floor.
And so does Rand Paul
Kentucky Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul fought every extension of the Patriot Act for as long as he could. Paul has been a constant critic of the NSA’s practices, he’s given a filibuster of sorts causing much needed debates to fail and on Sunday he conceded defeat as the Freedom Act passed in the Senate. Paul has said he doesn’t believe the Freedom Act goes far enough, but does see his efforts as successful.
“We didn’t have 60 votes before to end the bulk collection,” he said. “By slowing the process down, talking about the Patriot Act, we now will end bulk collection of records by the government.”
The Freedom Act will be approved quickly in the house where it will then head to the president to sign. Though many believe the Freedom Act doesn’t go far enough, it’s certainly true the way the NSA collects phone call data will change significantly.
We’ll be coving the Freedom Act as it passes through the house this week.
The Candidate is a weekly columnist at DeepDotWeb
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