The Senate has blocked two measures on Saturday morning. One measure would end the NSA bulk data collection program, the other would extend it under the Patriot Act for two-months.
The USA Freedom Act, which called for NSA reform, was passed by the house 338-88 was voted down in the Senate 57-42.
The USA Freedom Act would take the collection of phone records out of government hands and leave those records with the phone companies. The Act would have also restricted how the government would be able to access that information.
The Senate vote against the extension of the program was also close however, 54-45.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-KY) has fought hard to maintain the Patriot Act, but fellow Republican and Presidential candidate Rand Paul (R.-KY) filibustered a measure to extend the act by even a few days.
“This is a debate about whether a warrant with a single name of a single company can be used to collect all of the phone records of all of the people in our country with a single warrant. Our forefathers would be aghast,” Paul said.
McConnell made an attempt to extend the Patriot Act to June 8, but this was objected by Paul. He then moved to extend the program to June 5, but that was blocked by Senator Ron Wyden (D.-OR). McConnell then asked to extend the program by two-days to June 3, again, blocked, but this time by Senator Martin Heinrich (D.-NM). Finally, McConnell asked the Senate to extend the NSA spying program by even one-day, to June 2, but that again was blocked by Rand Paul.
McConnell, frustrated, took off his microphone at around 1:30am Saturday and called for a week long recess until May 31.
“We’ll be back on Sunday, May 31, one more opportunity to act responsibly to not allow this program to expire,” McConnell said. “This is a high-threat period. We know what’s going on overseas. We know what’s been tried here at home. My colleagues, do we really want this law to expire?”
The answer from Paul and a majority of Americans when asked if the NSA spying program should expire would be “yes.”