06.02.15

Leahy: Senators Should Not Support Efforts To Weaken Bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act

“A vote for any amendment is a vote to prolong the expiration of the surveillance authorities that ended on Sunday”

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, June 2, 2015) – As the Senate continued consideration of the historic USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 to end the NSA’s bulk collection program, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged Senators Tuesday not to weigh the legislation down with unnecessary changes that would ensure continued expiration of key surveillance authorities without any reform.

Instead, Leahy said, “The Senate must pass this bill without any amendments so that the President can sign it into law immediately and restore these expired provisions today.”

“A vote for any amendment is a vote to prolong the expiration of the surveillance authorities that ended on Sunday,” said Leahy, bipartisan coauthor of the legislation.  “If the Senate changes the underlying bill in any way, it must go back to the House for its consideration, and there are no guarantees that it will pass the new bill. Let us have no more unnecessary delay or political brinksmanship.  It is time to do our jobs for the American people – to protect their privacy and maintain our national security.  Now is not the time to seek unnecessary changes to this bill.”

Just yesterday, House cosponsors of the legislation issued a statement stating that “[t]he House is not likely to accept the changes proposed by Senator McConnell.  Section 215 has already expired.  These amendments will likely make that sunset permanent.”   

The bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act, coauthored by Leahy and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), brings needed reform to three expiring sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and ends the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.  A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously found this program was unlawful, and goes beyond what is authorized under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. 

The USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 passed the House last month on a bipartisan vote of 338-88.  The bill also has the support of the administration, intelligence leaders, the technology industry, and privacy advocates. 

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