The White House’s response to the Republican-led Senate’s lead-by-crisis on the Patriot Act was to remind everyone that the President worked with Congress to craft a reformed version of the Patriot Act a year and a half ago, and the result was the USA Freedom Act. You know, the basis of the thing the Senate just managed to advance at the very last minute. Of course, it’s not passed yet.
Statement by the Press Secretary on the USA FREEDOM Act:
In January 2014—a year-and-a-half ago—the President called on Congress to reform elements of our electronic surveillance programs. The President and members of his team subsequently worked painstakingly with members of Congress from both parties to craft a sensible path forward. The result, the USA FREEDOM Act, struck a reasonable compromise balancing security and privacy—allowing us to continue to protect the country while implementing various reforms, including prohibiting bulk collection through the use of Section 215, FISA pen registers, and National Security Letters. National security professionals, civil libertarians, and 338 members of the House of Representatives—both Democrats and Republicans—agreed that the legislation allowed our intelligence and law enforcement professionals to retain key tools while strengthening civil liberty protections.
The Senate took an important—if late—step forward tonight. We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible. On a matter as critical as our national security, individual Senators must put aside their partisan motivations and act swiftly. The American people deserve nothing less.
So much for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell showing the nation that Republicans really can lead, in spite of the evidence created by House Speaker John Boehner’s performance.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is similarly unimpressed, issuing a statement condemning the failure of Republican leadership, “To protect and defend the American people is the first duty of the Congress. Yet once again, the unending dysfunction of the Republican Congress is endangering the security of America’s families. Tonight, as Senate Republicans fail to pass the USA Freedom Act and allow the expiration of national security tools, it is clear Republicans’ recklessness and ineptitude has reached new and dangerous depths.”
Pelosi called it “a completely foreseeable and completely unnecessary crisis” because, she wrote, “The bipartisan USA Freedom Act overwhelmingly passed by the House provides thoughtful reforms of intelligence gathering programs designed to keep us safe. Senate Republicans have failed to produce any viable alternative. Now their procrastination will force the shutdown of vital intelligence gathering, leaving our nation needlessly vulnerable.”
The Democrat ended with, “We cannot afford such a staggeringly cavalier approach to our national security, our economy or the success of hard working American families.”
Indeed. For all of Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) histrionic screaming at President Obama over the Patriot Act (which of course is not President Obama’s), it was President Obama who demanded reforms to it years ago and got reforms “including prohibiting bulk collection”, and those bipartisan reforms are the basis of what was just grudgingly pushed forward in the Senate.
Tick tock, another shutdown courtesy of the perpetual dysfunction of the Republican Party trolling of America.