Surveillance Bill Heads for Showdown Today

Supporters of USA Freedom Act say no amendments are needed
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2015 10:00 AM CDT
Surveillance Bill Heads for Showdown Today
This June 6, 2013, file photo shows a sign outside the NSA campus in Fort Meade, Md.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The Senate is set today to tackle the USA Freedom Act—which would end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records—but the bill's House backers are warning senators to leave the bill alone. "The House is not likely to accept the changes," several members say in a statement, per Politico. "Section 215 has already expired. These amendments will likely make that sunset permanent." Senior Senate Republicans have suggested amendments, including requiring a phone company holding bulk data to inform the feds six months before a change in how it retains records, stretching the House's six-month transition period to a year, and killing a provision that would declassify significant opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the New York Times reports.

Senate Democrats will likely vote against the amendments, and some Republicans say they'll follow suit. "I regretfully cannot support any of these amendments because I have been assured they would operate as poison pills, impairing the bill's chances of passing in the House," says Sen. Mike Lee, a GOP sponsor. Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler notes the declassification provision in particular is "obnoxious to an extreme" and goes against the bill's goal to end the "secret body of law." The White House also urged that the Senate pass the bill as is to avoid a lengthier blackout period. The Senate will debate the bill this afternoon before voting on amendments and final passage, the Times reports. Any amendments would return the bill to the House. (More surveillance stories.)

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