Sunday, May 24, 2015

PATRIOT Act extension blocked in U.S. Senate

Randstand: Republican Presidential Candidate Leads Bipartisan Opposition to PATRIOT Act - Bloomberg Politics: David Weigel, with Derek Wallbank & Terence Dopps:

May 23. 2015 - "Saturday morning, Rand Paul set off a few parliamentary explosions in the Senate.... Paul used a range of parliamentary maneuvers to block the Senate from extending the Patriot Act, the contentious anti-terror law that expires June 1, and forced his Kentucky colleague, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to call senators back for a rare Sunday session on May 31....

"Saturday during a marathon session in which senators hustled to wrap up matters before their vacation, ... McConnell failed to marshal enough votes to pass the Patriot Act extension.... He then asked for unanimous consent to approve an extension of the law until June 8, a move which would have given the Senate a week after returning from vacation to craft a deal.

"Paul stood up. 'Reserving the right to object: We have entered into a momentous debate,' Paul said.  South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, sitting a row in front of him, rolled his eyes....

"Before this, Paul and his allies — especially Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat — had been trying to negotiate for roll call votes on amendments that they wanted to add [to] the Patriot Act. According to a Senate staffer who had knowledge of the talks but who is not permitted to discuss them publicly, they foundered, with opponents and supporters wanting to see where the votes were before they really negotiated. On the floor, Paul proposed that the six amendments he'd been advocating could be boiled down to votes on 'two amendments on a simple majority vote.'

"That didn't happen, so Paul and his across-the-aisle allies dug in. 'I renew my request with an amendment to extend the provisions until June 5,' said McConnell. Wyden objected. 'I renew my request with an amendment to extend the provisions until June 3,' said McConnell. New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, a Democrat who, like Wyden, had joined Paul in a 10-1/2-hour speaking marathon against the bill on Wednesday, objected.

"The upshot was that the Senate will return on May 31, a Sunday, the day before the Patriot Act is due to expire. Instead of a vote one week before the deadline, there would be a vote hours before the deadline. Backers of the bill hope the coming week will be used to work out a deal to extend the law.... But Paul signaled via social media that he'll also be using the time to build opposition to the Patriot Act....

"In Philadelphia, on Monday, Paul acknowledged that he did not have the votes to win the amendments he wants, but hoped he had enough support outside the Capitol to make the process infamous.... In Philadelphia he repeated a common make-my-day anecdote about just how ready he was to go beyond the Patriot Act's renewal deadline, if it meant he could have a debate and end the bulk data collection.

"'One senator came up to me and said, "If you defeat the Patriot Act, what will happen? How could we possibly survive?"’ Paul recalled. 'And I said maybe, just maybe, we could rely on the Constitution for a few hours.'"

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