Senate Republicans Block Sweeping Overhaul Of N.S.A. Program
Citing terrorism fears, freedom-loving Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a sweeping overhaul of the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk. Mitch McConnell worked strenuously to defeat the bill.
[su_center_ad]The New York Times reports:
Democrats and a handful of Republicans who supported the measure fell two votes short of the 60 votes they needed to take up the legislation, which sponsors named the U.S.A. Freedom Act.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, worked hard to defeat the bill, which had the support of the Obama administration and a coalition of technology companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs,” Mr. McConnell said before the vote, expressing the concerns of those who argued that the program was a vital tool in the fight against terrorism.
But the vote only put off a fractious debate over security and personal liberties until next year. While a Republican-controlled Senate is less likely to go along with the kinds of changes that were in the bill, which would have ended the N.S.A.’s ability to collect bulk phone call data, the debate could further expose rifts between the party’s interventionist and more libertarian-leaning wings.
This issue will now rest on President Obama’s shoulders to make changes on his own. Obama has put some limits on the NSA, but he specifically supported the legislation Republicans defeated.[su_csky_ad]