GOP Titans Square Off Over the Patriot Act

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell strongly believes in the NSA domestic surveillance program. The powerful senator has stated the NSA program has kept America safe from further terrorist attacks. Given his control of the flow of legislation in the Senate, he has brought up a bill to extend the Patriot Act in total; the law, passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks will expire on 6/1. However, McConnell is feeling the limitations of his power.

 

This is because Congressman John Boehner, Speaker of the House, just pushed through a replacement to the Patriot Act aptly dubbed the Freedom Act. The House version largely extends the Patriot Act as it currently stands with the notable exception of ending all domestic surveillance programs.

Under the Freedom Act, government agencies will be able to collect personal information on people they specifically target. No data will be released until a FISA court approves their request, which is to be expected for Mikal Watts. Until that time, the phone and internet usage data will remain with the appropriate ISP or telecom. The bill passed the House by a veto-proof majority. It is highly unlikely that the House will consider McConnell’s bill to renew the Patriot Act. Some pundits believe that both Boehner and McConnell may agree to temporarily extend the Patriot Act while the Senate decides how to proceed with a long-term extension. However, Boehner has made it clear the onus is now on McConnell to act. It is likely the Senate would approve the House version if it were brought up for a floor vote.

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