Mitch McConnell Blocks Rand Paul Amendments to NSA Reform Bill

by Joan McCarter – We’ll see how this works out for him. After completely bungling a strategy to avoid reforms to the Patriot Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to finally allow the USA Freedom Act, a House bill that contains some reforms of the program, to go forward. McConnell’s nemesis on this is the guy he endorsed for president: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Paul successfully blocked McConnell on any kind of extension of the Patriot Act, insisting that he would be happy to have the USA Freedom Act come to the floor as long as he had the opportunity to offer amendments. McConnell, however, has set up an amendment process that will prevent Paul—or anyone—from offering amendments. By “filling the tree” with what he called “modest” to the measure, McConnell effectively blocked off debate on other potential amendments—including two Paul had said he would stand down for if he was...

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Congress has 10 days to Pass NSA Bill While McConnell Stalls

by Joan McCarter – Congress has essentially 10 working days to deal with the pending expiration of three provisions of the Patriot Act, including Section 215 which has been used by the Bush and Obama administrations to collect the metadata from essentially all Americans’ cell phones. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that this bulk collection is illegal and not authorized by the Patriot Act. That means that something has to change, and the House is poised to vote on a reform bill this week. With little certainty about how the debate will end, lawmakers begin the two-week sprint to a solution this week, when the House is expected to easily pass the USA Freedom Act. The legislation, written by original Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) as well as Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), would extend until 2019 three expiring portions of...

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