From the Left to the Right, Support Builds for the USA FREEDOM ACT of 2015

Leahy: “Now is the time for the Senate to act”

WASHINGTON (Friday, May 22, 2015) – Supporters from all corners continue calling on Senate Republican leaders to take up and pass the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill to end the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records and bring needed reform to key surveillance authorities that are set to expire in the coming days.  The House overwhelmingly approved the measure last week.  The bill is supported by a majority of Senators, yet Republican leaders continue to block reform and have no alternative that can win approval in both chambers.

“The American people oppose the indiscriminate dragnet collection of their records, the courts have found it to be unlawful, and the House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to end this program through the USA FREEDOM Act.  Now is the time for the Senate to act,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Friday. “The Senate has two options.  The Senate can pass the USA FREEDOM Act, or it can let these provisions expire.  A growing majority of the Senate supports the USA FREEDOM Act.  If we pass it today, the President can sign it tomorrow.  And the intelligence community can move forward with the certainty it needs to protect the American people.”

An outline of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 can be found here, and text of the legislation can be found online.

Time for the Senate to Act

  • “The House of Representatives has now acted twice to reform our intelligence-gathering programs, making sure it protects Americans’ liberties and our national security, but the Senate has failed to act. The Senate should immediately pass this bipartisan bill instead of hastily and irresponsibly trying to scramble something together in the eleventh hour. The short-term extensions and other proposals being discussed in the Senate don’t have the support to pass in the House of Representatives. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has already ruled the bulk collection program as unlawful and extending it any further is unacceptable.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) (statement)
  • “Sen. McConnell is playing a dangerous game with the PATRIOT Act. If Section 215 sunsets, creating a gap in U.S. intelligence capabilities, then the Majority Leader will have no one to blame but himself. Section 215 may have legitimate targeted uses, but neither the House nor the American people will accept its renewal without ending bulk collection.” TechFreedom (statement)
    •  “Sen. McConnell is now returning to the old playbook by claiming that time is running out before the provisions expire and recommending a short-term reauthorization in order to ensure that the authorities do not expire. But it is Sen. McConnell who has his back against the wall and reform advocates who have all the leverage. Bipartisan reform legislation has passed the House, and President Barack Obama will sign it. An unchanged program faces an uncertain future in Congress and the courts. It’s the USA Freedom Act or nothing.” Center for American Progress (report)


  • “[T]he Senate has an opportunity to pass meaningful and balanced surveillance reform by considering the bipartisan USA Freedom Act. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House with 338 votes. Members from across the political spectrum supported it. Delaying action on reform by extending expiring authorities for two months or any extended period of time would be a missed opportunity.” Reform Government Surveillance (letter)


  • “Without action, not only are American jobs at risk, so is the open and borderless Internet upon which our innovation economy relies. The USA Freedom Act is a meaningful surveillance reform effort that will aid the rebuilding of the public’s trust not only in the technology sector but also in the U.S. government by effectively ending indiscriminate bulk collection and allowing companies to be more transparent about the orders they receive.” Information Technology Industry Council (letter)

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