C-Span is fast becoming my late night entertainment channel. The Senate’s votes on the House USA Freedom Act and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempts to extend the Patriot Act provisions for mass surveillance, for even one day past June 1, were well worth staying up to the early morning hours well worth the loss of sleep. (Not that I don’t anyway.) It was, at last, an epic #FAIL for the spies and fear mongers on both votes.
By a vote of 57-42, the USA Freedom Act failed on Friday to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance in the Senate after hours of procedural manoeuvering lasted into the wee hours Saturday morning.
The result left the Senate due to reconvene on May 31, just hours before a wellspring of broad NSA and FBI domestic spying powers will expire at midnight.
Architects of the USA Freedom Act had hoped that the expiration at the end of May of the Patriot Act authorities, known as Section 215, provided them sufficient leverage to undo the defeat of 2014 and push their bill over the line.
The bill was a compromise to limit the scope of government surveillance. It traded the end of NSA bulk surveillance for the retention through 2019 of Section 215, which permits the collection of “business records” outside normal warrant and subpoena channels – as well as a massive amount of US communications metadata, according to a justice department report. [..]
On Saturday morning, after both cloture votes failed, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell asked for unanimous consent to extend the Patriot Act for a week. Paul objected. Objections were then heard from Paul, as well as from Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden and New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich on four-day, two-day and one-day extensions. Eventually McConnell gave up and announced that the Senate would adjourn until 31 May, the day before the key provisions of the Patriot Act expire. [..]
Those who want a straight extension of the Patriot Act are in a distinct minority and supporters of the USA Freedom Act still cannot muster the necessary super majority to advance the bill. The result means those who are more than happy to simply let Section 215 expire on May 31 are in the driver’s seat.
When reporters asked Paul on Saturday morning whether he was concerned about the provisions of the Patriot Act expiring at the end of the month, the Kentucky Republican seemed unworried “We were liking the constitution for about 200 years and I think we could rely on the constitution.”
Watch Sen. Paul shut down Sen McConnell’s attempts to extend the Patriot Act,
Also caught in that clip was Sen. Huckleberry Butchmeup rolling his eyes and picking his nose as Sen. Paul was speaking.
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) May 23, 2015
This was Marcy Wheeler’s (emptywheel) reaction on the proceedings
It’s not certain just how “legal” Pres. Obama’s request to the FISA court would be considering the federal appeals court ruling last week that found the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of phone records illegal.
The Senate will return from the Memorial Day break one day early, on May 31, to reconsider an extension of the three provisions of the Patriot Act that will expire the next day.
Let me say two things. First, I am ashamed that any Democrat supported the farce House bill that does nothing to protect our Fourth Amendment rights. Sorry, Sen. Boxer, this is not protecting our county.
Second, a hearty thanks to Senator Rand Paul, who for the fist time that I can remember, went past Charles Pierce’s five minute rule for anything he says.