|Senate Recesses Without Passing Surveillance
Bill, But Will Return on May 31
5/23. The Senate began its Memorial Day recess, but will return early, on Sunday, May 31, to
take up legislation pertaining to extending and/or revising three expiring provisions of
The Senate took up this issue just after 11 PM on Friday, May 22. The Senate had
focused on the trade promotion authority (TPA) bill until late in the evening. However, after two
failed cloture votes, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY),
the Senate Majority Leader, announced just after 1:00 AM that the Senate will return from its
Memorial Day recess on Sunday, May 31 to resume consideration of surveillance legislation. The
three provisions of surveillance law sunset at the end of May 31.
The end of the month sunsets have been on the books for years, and known to Senators. Waiting
until midnight on the last day in session before the sunset to bring the matter up for
consideration was a calculated strategy of the Senate Majority Leader.
First, the Senate fell just short of invoking cloture on the bill passed by the House on May
13, HR 2048 [LOC |
WW], the "USA
FREEDOM Act". It then fell short of invoking cloture by a wider margin on Sen. McConnell's
bill, S 1357 [LOC |
WW], which would
provide short term extensions of the sunsets on Section 215, lone wolf, and roving wiretap
authority to July 31, 2015, without any modifications.
Sen. McConnell then sought, but did not receive, unanimous consent for bills to extend the
sunsets to June 8, June 5, June 3, and finally, June 2. He then announced that the Senate will
recess, but come back early, on Sunday, May 31, to resume consideration of this issue.
It was just after midnight that the Senate voted on the first motion to invoke cloture (on the
House passed bill). Cloture motions require 60 votes for passage. It failed on a roll call vote of
Roll Call No. 194. This precluded further consideration of that bill.
Republicans voted 12-41, with one Senator not voting. Democrats voted 45-1.
Sen. McConnell stated that "the House passed bill lacks the support of 60 Senators".
He also said the Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Chairman and
ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence
Committee (SIC), are working on a two month extension bill.
Earlier on Friday, Sen. Burr described, but did not release, an alternative bill that would
have converted the existing program from bulk data collection and retention by the
National Security Agency (NSA) to an undisclosed
"carrier-based process" by June 30, 2017. See, story titled "Sen. Burr Floats
Secret Alternative Surveillance Bill" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,727,
May 21, 2015.
After the failed cloture vote, an irate Sen. Barbara
Boxer (D-CA) stated that she still wanted a vote on the House passed bill. She began to debate
the issue. The acting President of the Senate ruled that "Debate is not in order."
Sen. Feinstein said that "I did not support the Burr bill." She added that
"I have taken a good look at this. For those who want reform and want to prevent the
government from holding the data, the FREEDOM Act is the only way to do it.", and that
by not passing it, the Senate is placing all three sunsetted provisions "into serious
The Senate then voted on the motion to invoke cloture on Sen. McConnell's straight extension,
S 1357. It failed on a vote of 45-54. See,
Roll Call No.
195. Republicans voted 43-10, with one Senator not voting. Democrats voted
These votes did not represent a dichotomous choice between the House passed bill to extend
but reform the NSA's bulk phone data collection program, and Sen. McConnell's bill to extend
without any reforms. Some Senators were likely motivated by their desire to terminate the program.
Some were likely motivated by a desire to extend the program, whether reformed or not.
Thus, while many of those voting against the motion to invoke cloture on the House passed bill
likely sought a straight extension, a small block of Senators voted against invoking cloture
because they seek to completely terminate the bulk phone data program.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example, voted against
cloture for this reason. Furthermore, some who voted against the first cloture motion may want
to reform the program, but not in the manner of the House bill.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), for example, explained
his vote against cloture this way.
49 Senators voted yes on the first motion and no on the second motion. 37 voted no on the
first motion yes on the second motion. Five Senators voted against both motions. Eight Senators
voted for both motions. One Senator missed both votes.
Other than some speeches by Senators delivered to a mostly empty Senate chamber, there has
been no Senate debate. Also, neither the Senate
Judiciary Committee (SJC) nor the Senate
Intelligence Committee (SIC) has passed a bill, or even held a public hearing on a bill.
(Although, the SJC held hearings in the 113th Congress.) Many Senators have not publicly taken a
position. Hence, there is little data upon which to assess Senators' views.
After the votes, Sen. McConnell said that "it is clear there aren't 60 votes in the
Senate for either the House passed bill", or for his extension bill.
He then offered, and asked for unanimous consent for, a bill to extend the three sunsets to
June 8, to enable the Congress more time to consider this matter. Sen. Paul objected.
Sen. McConnell then offered and asked for unanimous consent for a bill to extend to June 5.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) objected. Sen. McConnell proposed
Wednesday, June 3. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
objected. Finally, he proposed June 2. Sen. Paul objected.
About four minutes later, Sen. McConnell spoke on the floor to announce that "we are
unable to clear any short term extensions". So, he said, "we will return on
Sunday, May 31st".
He said that that will provide "one more opportunity for us to act responsibly".
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) made the point that Senators
from the western states would have difficulty flying back to Washington DC on a Sunday early
enough for votes before 5:00 PM. Sen. McConnell made no commitments regarding the timing
Voting on surveillance bills is strongly correlated with region. (See, story titled
"Commentary: Analysis of Senate Votes on the FISA Extension Bill" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 2,499, December 30, 2012.)
Western state Senators are far more likely to support imposing limitations
upon government surveillance powers than other Senators. By scheduling votes on
a Sunday, Sen. McConnell may obtain a reduced Senate that lacks some of his
For example, eight of the twelve Republicans who voted to invoke cloture on the House passed
bill are from mountain or pacific states. Three more are from North Dakota, Wisconsin and Texas.
|Analysis of the Senate Votes on the Surveillance
5/23. The Senate held two votes just before and after midnight on May 22-23, 2015 on extending
three provisions of surveillance law that are scheduled to sunset at the end of the month. First,
the Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on the bill passed by the House on May 13,
HR 2048 [LOC |
WW], the "USA
FREEDOM Act", by a vote of 57-42. Cloture motions require 60 votes for passage. Second, the
Senate rejected a motion to invoke cloture on Sen. McConnell's bill, S 1357
WW], which would extend
sunsets on Section 215, lone wolf, and roving wiretap authority to July 31, 2015, without any
modifications, by a vote of 45-54.
First, one can draw the conclusion from these votes that if the Senate were to hold an up or
down vote on the House passed bill, it would pass. Moreover, President Obama would sign it. Also,
if the Senate were to hold an up or down vote on Sen. McConnell's bill, it would fail.
Second, it is likely that if the Senate were to hold up or down votes on bills (as opposed
to procedural cloture votes), and do so during the light day, the support for the House passed
bill, and opposition to Sen. McConnell's bill, would be greater.
Sen. McConnell was able to garner 40 votes to block passage of the House
passed bill by preventing any floor consideration of a bill in the preceding months,
and then by holding votes at midnight on a Friday, when few reporters or voters
are watching, and many have already begun their Memorial Day holidays.
With two votes, Senators fall into one of four groups -- the 49 Senators who
voted yes on the first motion and no on the second motion, the 37 who voted yes
on the first and no on the second, the eight who voted yes on both motions, and
the five who voted no on both motions.
Five No/No Senators. Five Senators voted no to both motions:
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID),
Sen. Angus King (D-ME),
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY),
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), and
Sen. Ron Paul (R-KY).
Of course, Senators' votes sometimes do not reflect their views or policy
goals on the matter up for a vote. First, Senators sometimes cast votes with
regard to Senate procedure. For example, Sen. McConnell's vote against invoking
cloture on his own bill does not reflect opposition to his bill. Rather, he saw
that the motion was going to fail, and voted against it to preserve his option
of bringing a motion to reconsider later.
Second, Senators often cast votes, particularly on procedural votes such as
cloture motions, with regard for party cohesion. Some Republicans could have
been following the lead of their Senate Majority Leader, while some Democrats
could simply have been voting with their party.
Third, Senators sometimes cast a vote on one matter to pursue a policy goal
on another matter. For example, a Senator might trade his vote on that matter,
in return for support from other Senators or the administration on other
matters. Senators rarely disclose vote trading arrangements.
But, that said, the Senators who voted no to both motions (other than Sen. McConnell)
appear to be die hard opponents of the bulk phone records collection program. They do not
want to extend the program, or even extend it with reforms. Sen. Paul, who is one of the four,
has repeatedly and publicly stated that this is his view.
Sen. Crapo did not speak in the Senate, or issue a release explaining his vote. However,
legislators from Idaho have a history of working to limit government surveillance powers.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) now represents the state of
Idaho. He also sits on the House Judiciary Committee
(HJC). He worked during HJC mark up to further limit the bulk phone records program. Then, he was
one of only 88 Representatives to vote against the House bill. Also, former Rep. Butch Otter
(R-ID) and former Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) both sponsored and advocated bills to limit
post-PATRIOT Act government surveillance. Finally, one might also recall that back in the 1970s
there was a committee titled the "United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities". Its hearings and investigations did much
to limit the activities of the intelligence agencies. Its Chairman was former Sen. Frank Church
Eight Yes/Yes Senators. Eight Senators voted yes to both motions:
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN),
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ),
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND),
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI),
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK),
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL),
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK).
The two bills have something in common. Both bills would extend all three of the sunsetted
provisions of surveillance law. Hence, for this group of Senators the most salient matter may
have been extending these provisions. For this group, whether or not the
extended phone records program is reformed was of secondary importance.
Although, none of these Senators took to the floor on Friday or Saturday to state as much.
49 Yes/No Senators. 49 Senators voted for motion to invoke cloture on
the House passed bill, and no on the motion to invoke cloture on Sen. McConnell's bill.
This group included 43 Democrats and 6 Republicans.
The six Republicans were Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX),
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT),
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO),
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV),
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). They
are all westerners.
The 43 Democrats were Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ),
Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coons
(D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Heinrich (D-NM),
Heitkamp (D-ND), Hirono (D-HI),Kaine (D-VA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Manchin (D-WV),
Markey (D-MA), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murphy (D-CT),
Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Sanders (D-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer
(D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-NM), Warner (D-VA), Warren
(D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).
The only Democrat not in this group was Sen.
Angus King (D-ME). (He voted against both cloture motions.)
It might also be noted that there is a bill pending in the Senate, S 1123. It has 19
sponsors -- 14 Democrats and 5 Republicans. All 19 were part of this group of 43.
On April 28, 2015, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and others
introduced S 1123
WW], also titled the
"USA FREEDOM Act". It is substantially identical to the House passed bill.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking
Democrat on the SIC, was one of this group of 49. She stated that "the choice before
the Senate today is a clear one: whether to vote for the only sure way to
continue the use of important intelligence authorities in a way that has the
support of the American people, the President, the intelligence community, and
the Department of Justice or to hope that the authorities will be renewed for 2
months despite clear communications from the House that it will not support such
an extension. ... I will support the USA FREEDOM Act." See, Congressional
Record, May 22, 2015 at Pages 3303-4.
Sen. Lee was also one of this group of 49. He stated in a
release after the votes that "It is unfortunate that some of my colleagues chose
to continue to put our nation's national security at risk by failing to choose the only option
available to keep our nation's most essential domestic counterterrorism programs up and
running". He added, "That said, I stand committed to staying here in Washington, all
week if necessary, to keep working towards passage of the USA Freedom Act."
Sen. Murkowski was also in this group. She stated in a release after the votes that
"The government’s surveillance efforts need to be seriously rethought. While I
understand the new reality we face against a complicated terrorist network, I
believe American lives and our privacy rights can still be protected by
implementing some important reforms. The general rule should not be for the
government to track everyone we call on our home phones or cell phones; instead,
we need a targeted approach that ensures we focus on those would cause us harm.
That is why I co-sponsored the bipartisan USA Freedom Act – which halts
the bulk surveillance of phone records that was ruled illegal by the Second
Circuit Court of Appeals two weeks ago – and why I have backed similar efforts
to improve this process for the last ten years." See also, her May 4
statement regarding her reasons for cosponsoring S 1123.
37 No/Yes Senators. 37 Senators voted against the motion to invoke cloture on the House
passed bill, and yes on the motion to invoke cloture on Sen. McConnell's bill.
All 37 are Republicans. They were Senators Alexander (R-TN), Ayotte (R-NH), Barrasso (R-WY),
Blunt (R-MO), Boozman (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Capito (R-WV), Cassidy (R-LA), Coats (R-IN), Cochran
(R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Cotton (R-AR), Ernst (R-IA), Fischer (R-NE),
Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Kirk (R-IL), McCain
(R-AZ), Perdue (R-GA), Portman (R-OH), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Rounds (R-SD), Rubio (R-FL),
Sasse (R-NE), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Tillis (R-NC), Toomey (R-PA), Vitter
(R-LA), and Wicker (R-MS).
One of the 37 is Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
He is a senior member, and former Chairman, of the SJC.
He stated in the Senate on May 22 that what he wants is
continuation of the program as it now exists. He said that "I cannot support the
so-called FREEDOM Act. While I would prefer to pass a long-term extension of our
current authorities, I will support a short-term extension to facilitate the
search for a long-term solution." See, Congressional Record, May 22,
2015, at Pages S3300-1.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC),
was also one of the 37. He offered a different explanation for his votes.
He stated in the Senate on May 22 that "I wish to explain why I support a
short-term reauthorization of the national security authorities that expire on
June 1, and why I will not vote for cloture on the latest version of the USA
FREEDOM Act at this time. These authorities need to be reauthorized and reformed
in a way that appropriately balances national security with the privacy and
civil liberties of all Americans. I am hopeful that during the next few weeks we
can do a better job of doing just that."
"While we must reauthorize these authorities, however, it is equally important
that we reform them. But we don't yet have a reform bill that I am satisfied with."
He added that "The American people have made clear that they want the government to stop
indiscriminately collecting their telephone metadata in bulk under section 215.
They also want more transparency from the government and from the private sector
about how section 215 and other national security authorities are being used.
They want real reform. I want to be clear that I emphatically agree with these goals."
He did not explain why he, as Chairman of the Committee with jurisdiction since January, has
not introduced a bill, released a draft of a bill, or scheduled a hearing on this issue.
Also, he said little about his objections to the House passed bill.
He did say that the "USA FREEDOM Act ... would end the bulk collection of
telephone metadata in 6 months, and transition the program to a system where the
phone companies hold the data for targeted searching by the government." He said
that it is not clear that this transition could be completed in six month. He
complained that this proposal "feels like a leap into the dark when we can least
But, he is objecting to something that is not in the USA FREEDOM Act, either
as passed by the House, or as introduced in the Senate. He is commenting on a
concept that has been discussed, not a bill. He cast his vote against a motion
to invoke cloture on the House passed bill, which would not transition the
program to retention by phone companies.
But, what these statements illustrate is that there is a wide range of
opinion and policy goals in this set of 37 Senators.
One Senator did not vote on either motion: Sen. Mike
Enzi (R-WY). He missed all votes on May 22-23, not only with respect to surveillance, but
also regarding trade promotion authority.
|This issue contains the following items:
• Senate Recesses Without Passing Surveillance Bill, But Will Return on May 31
• Analysis of the Senate Votes on the Surveillance Bills
• House Unlikely to Pass a Straight Extension Bill
• Reaction to Senate's Failure to Pass a Surveillance Bill
• More Surveillance News
New items are highlighted in
|Monday, May 25
Memorial Day. This is a federal holiday. See, Office of Personnel
Management's (OPM) 2015
The House will not meet the week of May 25-29.
The Senate will not meet the week of May 25-29. See,
|Tuesday, May 26
11:45 AM - 1:15 PM. The DC Bar
Association will host a presentation titled "Social Media, E-Discovery and
Ethics". The speaker will be
Robert Keeling (Sidley Austin). Free. No CLE credits. No reporters. No webcast.
Registration required. Send e-mail to Kevin Clark at kclark at complianceds dot com. See,
Location: Sidley Austin, 1501 K St., NW.
12:15 - 1:30 PM. The Federal
Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Mobile Payments Committee will host a panel
discussion regarding potential regulation by the FTC, FCC, and CFPB of the security of
mobile payments data. The speakers will be Rick Hindman (Chief of the FCC's Enforcement
Bureau's Telecommunications Consumers Division), Katherine McCarron (FTC Bureau of Consumer
Protection's Division of Privacy and Identity Protection), and Scott Talbott (ETA). Free. No
CLE credits. No webcast. Bring your own lunch. See,
Location: Harris Wiltshire & Grannis, 8th floor, 1919
M St., NW.
|Wednesday, May 27
12:15 - 1:30 PM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will
host an event titled "Meet the FCC Enforcement Bureau Front Office". The
speakers will be Travis LeBlanc (Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau), William Davenport
(Deputy Chief), Paula Blizzard (Deputy Chief), and Phillip Rosario (Deputy Chief). The
Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) asserts that
this is event of its Enforcement Committee. No webcast. No CLE credits. Bring your own lunch.
Free. See, notice.
Location: Wiley Rein, 1776 K St., NW.
12:30 - 2:00 PM. The American Bar
Association (ABA) will host a panel discussion titled "Trade Legislation and Policy
Update". The speakers will be Angela Ellard (Republican Chief International Trade
Counsel, House Ways and Means Committee), Jason Kearns (Democratic Chief Trade Counsel, HWMC),
Everett Eissenstat (Republican Chief International Trade Counsel, Senate Finance Committee), and
Jayme White (Democratic Chief Adviser for International Competitiveness and Innovation, SFC). The
price to attend ranges from $15 to $25. No CLE credits. No webcast. Lunch will be served. See,
notice. Location: Barnes & Thornburg, 1717 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
|Thursday, May 28
Supreme Court conference day. See,
calendar. Closed to the public.
10:30 AM - 12:00 NOON. The Brookings
Institution (BI) will host a panel discussion titled "The Digital Single Market:
Implications for the Transatlantic Relationship ". The speakers will be Andrus Ansip
(European Commission), Miriam Sapiro (BI), and Cameron Kerry (BI). See,
Location: JHU School of Advanced International Studies, 1740 Massachusetts Ave., NW.
12:00 NOON. The Cato Institute
will host a panel discussion titled "Removing Barriers to Online Medical Care".
The speakers will be Rene Quashie (Epstein Becker & Green), Jeff Rowes (Institute for
Justice), Josh Sharfstein (Johns Hopkins University), and Simon Lester (Cato). Free. Open
to the public. Webcast. See,
Location: Cato, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., NW.
12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The DC Bar
Association will host a presentation titled "Hot Apps and Tech for the Modern
Lawyer". The price to attend ranges from free to $30. No CLE credits. For more
information, call 202-626-3463. The DC Bar has a history of barring reporters from its events.
Location: DC Bar Conference Center, 1101 K St., NW.
12:15 - 1:30 PM. The Federal
Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) International Telecommunications Committee will
host a panel discussion titled "Celebrating the ITU’s 150th Anniversary and the 50th
Anniversary of the Creation of INTELSAT". The speakers will be Henry Goldberg (Goldberg
Godles Weiner & Wright), Brian Fontes (National Emergency Numbering Association), David
Leive, and Jennifer Manner (EchoStar). No webcast. No CLE credits. Bring your own lunch.
notice. Location: Wiley Rein, 1776 K
1:00 PM. The US Telecom will
host a webcast presentation titled "Telecom Cyber Frameworks, Policies and Business
Processes". The speakers will be Jeff Goldtrop (FCC/PSHSB Associate Chief for
Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability) and Adam Sedgewick (DOC/NIST Senior Information
Technology Policy Advisor). See,
1:00 - 2:30 PM.The American Bar
Association (ABA) will host a webcast panel discussion titled "Online
Privacy & Data Security Soup to Nuts: A Primer and Update on Important Developments for
the Business Lawyer". The speakers will be Lisa Lifshitz, Richard Balough, Theodore
Claypoole, and Jonathan Rubens. Prices vary. Prices vary. CLE credits. See,
1:00 - 2:30 PM. The American Bar
Association (ABA) will host a webcast panel discussion titled "The
New EU Unitary Patent & Unified Patent Court: Strategic Considerations for US
Applicants/Patentees". The speakers will be Bernd Aechter, Brad Hattenbach, Charles
Larsen, Willard Jones, and Margaret Welsh. Prices vary. CLE credits. See,
1:00 - 2:30 PM. The American Bar
Association (ABA) will host a webcast panel discussion titled "Dealing
With Cybersecurity Threats & Breaches". The speakers will be Henry Talavera
(Polsinelli PC), Brian Johnston (Polsinelli PC), Lisa Sotto (Hunton & Williams), Lisa Van
Fleet (Bryan Cave). Prices vary. CLE credits. See,
|Friday, May 29
9:00 - 10:30 AM. The Information
Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) will host a panel discussion titled
"Uncle Sam’s Broadband Plan: Which Way Forward for the New Interagency Broadband
Council?". The speakers will be Doug Brake (ITIF), Blair Levin (Brookings Institute),
and Thomas Power (CTIA Wireless Association). Free. Open to the public. Live and archived
notice. Location: ITIF/ITIC, Suite 610, 1101 K St., NW.
Deadline to submit comments to the Executive Office of the President's
(EOP) Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) National Science and Technology
Council (NSTC) regarding the
draft [15 pages in PDF] titled "2015 National Space Weather Strategy".
This draft addresses, among other things, the effect of solar flares, solar energetic particles,
and coronal mass ejections upon telecommunications. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 80, No. 83, April 30, 2015, at Pages 24296-24297.
|Sunday, May 31
The Senate will return from it Memorial Day recess
to consider legislation to extend and/or revise three provisions of surveillance law
(Section 215, lone wolf FISA authority, and roving wiretap).
12:00 MIDNIGHT. Three provisions of surveillance law
(Section 215, lone wolf FISA authority, and roving wiretap)
|House Unlikely to Pass a Straight Extension
5/23. Members of the House of Representatives reiterated their positions that
the House will not pass a straight extension bill.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA),
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI),
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released a
joint statement on May 22 (before the Senate votes) regarding the pending sunset of three
provisions of surveillance law, and reformation of the NSA's bulk phone records collection program.
Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. Conyers are the Chairman and ranking Democrat on the
House Judiciary Committee (HJC). Rep. Sensenbrenner
is the Chairman of the HJC's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
They wrote that HR 2048 [LOC
| WW], the "USA
FREEDOM Act", which the House passed on May 13, "is a carefully crafted compromise that
has been worked on for nearly two years and was passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of
338-88. It has been fully vetted and has won the backing of the intelligence community, civil
liberties groups, private industry, the Attorney General, and the President, as
well as having the support of the American people. Importantly, the National
Security Agency has said that the 180-day transition period contained in the
bill is enough time to get the new call detail record program up and running."
The House in the 113th Congress also passed an earlier version of the USA FREEDOM Act,
HR 3361 [LOC
| WW]. The HJC
amended and approved that bill on May 7, 2014. The full House amended and approved it on
May 22, 2014, by a vote of 303-121. See,
Roll Call No. 230.
The four continued that "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."
They wrote that "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."
The concluded that "If the Senate rejects the USA Freedom Act, Section 215,
including the bulk collection program some Senators are trying to preserve, will
expire. While Section 215 was used to wrongly justify the government’s bulk
collection program, it is also routinely used by the FBI in individual national
security investigations to identify and apprehend terrorists and spies. The USA
Freedom Act eliminates bulk collection while retaining the necessary tools to
maintain our national security. The only way for the Senate to ensure that
Americans' civil liberties and our national security are protected is to pass
the USA Freedom Act before June 1."
The four also issued a
release after the Senate votes in which they stated that "Because the Senate has rejected
the USA Freedom Act, Section 215 -- and the NSA’s bulk collection program that some in the Senate
are trying to preserve -- will now expire before the House reconvenes on the evening of June 1.
The Senate has failed to make the important reforms necessary, jeopardizing Americans’ civil
liberties and our national security."
|Reaction to Senate's Failure to Pass a
5/23. Following the Senate's failure to enact a surveillance bill before its Memorial Day
recess, technology groups and companies urged the Senate to pass legislation that reforms the
National Security Agency's (NSA) bulk data collection and
retention program before expiration of Section 215 at the end of May.
Berin Szoka, head of the Tech Freedom, stated in a
release that "Sen. McConnell is playing a dangerous game with the PATRIOT Act".
He said that "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. USA FREEDOM is a carefully crafted compromise that would preserve
intelligence capabilities -- short of bulk collection -- that cannot be found under other
authorities. If Sen. McConnell wants to avoid any gaps in intelligence connection, he must make
sure USA FREEDOM passes."
Nuala O'Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology
(CDT), stated in a May 23
that "The Senate's inaction on surveillance reform is inexcusable after two years of debate
and bipartisan compromise."
She urged that "The Senate should reject any extension of PATRIOT Act authorities that
do not include reforms at least as strong as those in the USA FREEDOM Act. When the Senate returns,
we urge a vote to finally pass the USA FREEDOM Act to end bulk collection".
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated in a
release that it "urges Congress to again reject Section 215 reauthorization, and then
turn to addressing other surveillance abuses by the US government, including mass surveillance
of the Internet, the secretive and one-sided FISA Court, and the problems of secrecy and
over-classification that have created the environment that allowed such spying overreach to
Former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY), who now works for Google, stated in a May 13
regarding House passage of HR 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act, "we hope that the Senate will
use the June 1 expiration of Section 215 and other legal authorities to modernize and reform
our surveillance programs ... We believe the bill approved today achieves that goal."
Molinari wrote in a
release on April 29 that "While the USA Freedom Act of 2015 does not address the full
panoply of reforms that Congress ought to undertake, it represents a significant down payment on
broader government surveillance reform. It is critical that Congress now act to begin to restore
consumers’ trust in the Internet."
|More Surveillance News
5/23. Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-CA), Sen. Angus King (D-ME) and
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced
S 1469 [LOC |
WW], on Saturday,
May 23, 2014. The introduction is noted in the Congressional Record (CR). However, the
CR contains no copy of the bill. The CR contains the short description, "A bill to amend
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and for other purposes". None of the
three sponsors published a copy of the bill, or a statement, in their web sites. Sen. Feinstein
is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence
5/21. The Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a
heavily redacted copy of a report
titled "A Review of the FBI's Use of Section 215 Orders: Assessment of Progress in Implementing
Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007 through 2009".
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