Leahy: Senators Should Pass USA FREEDOM Act TONIGHT

WASHINGTON (Sunday, May 31, 2015) – Senators should not delay passage of bipartisan, commonsense legislation to reform surveillance authorities that are set to expire in a matter of hours, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said late Sunday.

Leahy, a coauthor of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, noted that Republican leaders prevented the Senate from taking up the measure earlier this month which has forced a last-minute debate on this critical issue. With time running out, Leahy said the responsible choice is to pass the USA FREEDOM Act before three expiring sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) sunset at midnight tonight.

“We did not have to end up here, just hours away from the midnight expiration of three surveillance authorities, and having just moved to proceed to the USA FREEDOM Act,” Leahy said, noting that he has worked for months across the aisle to broaden support for the bill and advance it well ahead of the May 31 deadline.

“We should have proceeded to this bill two Fridays ago,” he said.  “Had we done so, we could have stayed here to do our work, considered amendments, and passed the bill well in advance of tonight’s sunset.  Instead, we are hours away from expiration and just now considering legislation that many of us have been working on for years.  Our intelligence community needs predictability and certainty, not a manufactured crisis.”

But with the hours drawing closer to midnight, Leahy noted that with cooperation from Senators, the Senate can pass the USA FREEDOM Act tonight.

“We can consider a handful of amendments under a time agreement, and pass this bill before midnight.  That would be the responsible thing to do,” he said.  

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