Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans have unified around the common goal of killing some of the Patriot Act’s worst domestic spying programs with a filibuster.
Politico reported on the fact that key parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire with no deal in sight:
The prospects of a deal look grim: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday night proposed just a two-month extension of expiring PATRIOT Act provisions to give the two sides more time to negotiate, but even that was immediately dismissed by critics of the program.
The Senate is stalemated. McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) want to prolong the authorities for 5½ years untouched. But libertarian-leaning Republicans and Democrats are threatening to let the authorities expire. Just extending them a few months faces long odds of clearing Congress before the break.
“I’m going to filibuster. I’m going to do everything it takes to block a short-term extension,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). He and Paul (R-Ky.) have threatened to filibuster any attempt to prolong the bulk collection program.
There is broad support for the USA Freedom Act, which is a bill of modest reforms, but McConnell and other spying hawks want a five and a half year extension of the full Patriot Act that is unlikely to happen.
Democrats and their Republican allies on this issue can win by doing nothing. They are never going to pass a two-month extension of the program, and they are definitely not going to pass McConnell’s plan.
The Patriot Act is one of the ugly living legacies of the post-9/11 Bush years. It is a horrible piece of civil liberties violating legislation that was hurriedly passed in the panic after 9/11. Some Republicans have already started to trot out the scare rhetoric of the terrorists coming to kill us all if the NSA loses its illegal data collection programs, but the tide has finally turned.
Most Americans are ready to put their liberties ahead of fear. Getting rid of some of the most egregious programs in the Patriot Act would not only restore freedom. It would also be the first steps towards removing another ugly stain that was left behind by George W. Bush.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association