Senate kills bill on NSA domestic surveillance reform
23 May, 2015
The USA Freedom Act has failed in the Senate, stalling an effort to reform certain federal surveillance programs before an end-of-the-month deadline ends the government’s ability to collect the phone records of Americans.
During a Senate vote on Friday, the bill was rejected by a vote of 57-42. It had previously been passed in the House of Representatives with overwhelming success.
Had lawmakers approved the Freedom Act, the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, as conducted by the government under a controversial interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, would have been limited by new restrictions.
Absent a resolution, however, the government’s authority to collect call records expires at the end of the month, calling into question the future of federal counterterrorism and national security operations.
On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest lashed out at the Senate’s reluctance to move on the bill as the deadline drew nearer.
“The refusal of the Senate to consider this legislation in a similar bipartisan spirit puts at risk not just the bipartisan compromise, but it puts the risk of our national security professionals to keep us safe,” Earnest said.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court recently concluded that the Patriot Act provision never authorized the federal investigators to collect business records containing telephone data and other information, contrary to the government’s post-9/11 assertions.