How Will NSA Surveillance Reform Fare in the Senate?

Posted May 20, 2015 at 5:10am

Daniel DePetris argues that while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may claim that he will not bring the USA Freedom Act to a vote in his chamber, “he will be the pragmatic legislator that he’s always been throughout his career: looking for where the most votes are and allowing a full and open debate. Right now, USA Freedom appears to have the most votes.”  

“Because Section 215 expires on June 1, McConnell will only have until the end of the week to arrive at some sort of compromise in order to retain at least some of the NSA’s authority to search telephone metadata — something that the USA Freedom Act allows the NSA to do, as long as they receive a court order to access the data specific to an authorized counterterrorism investigation. Although McConnell may hope to use the short calendar to pressure his colleagues to support a clean reauthorization, it will be a nearly impossible task for him to pick off enough Senate Democrats to meet the 60-vote threshold. The entire Democratic caucus wants the USA Freedom Act, not an extension of the USA Patriot Act, to be the law of the land.”  

Meanwhile, National Journal reports that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) is working on an alternative to the Freedom Act that “would seek to lengthen the transition from the bulk-records regime to an as-needed system, wherein the NSA could ask for select metadata from telephone companies after getting judicial approval.”