McConnell Fast-Tracks Bill To Reauthorize Patriot Act Until 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to reauthorize a portion of the Patriot Act that allows the National Security Agency to sweep up call records on millions of Americans until 2020.
McConnell began the process of placing the bill on the Senate calendar Tuesday night under Rule 14, which allows the legislation to skip committee markup.
The bill, cosponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, “extend[s] authority relating to roving surveillance, access to business records, and individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and for other purposes.”
Under the legislation, Section 215 of the Patriot Act would be renewed for another five years. Section 215 authorizes the NSA to collect and store virtually all Americans’ landline telephone records, including telephone numbers, dialed numbers, call durations and locations. The provision expires on June 1.
McConnell’s bill comes amid a renewed effort to revive the U.S.A. Freedom Act in the House, where it passed last year but failed in the Senate. The Freedom Act renews Section 215, but includes reforms to limit the NSA’s access to phone records.
Republicans led by McConnell attacked the Freedom Act late last year, insisting the new reforms would open the U.S. up to greater threats from terrorist organizations including ISIS in the Middle East.