Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he hopes the United States moves to “reestablish” the Patriot Act after legislation with surveillance reforms passed the Senate and was enacted by President Obama.
Walker, a likely Republican presidential hopeful, said Obama should have led the charge to simply renew the law rather than implementing a bill that offered some tweaks, citing continued terrorist threats from around the world.
Walker dismissed criticism that parts of the law justified what amounted to eavesdropping, and acknowledged that he preferred the USA Freedom Act signed by Obama “over nothing.”
“I hope in the future we'll reestablish the Patriot Act,” he said in a Fox interview.
The Senate approved the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday, but only after portions of the Patriot Act expired early in the week.
The bill would reinstate certain counterterrorism provisions, and overhaul the authority for collecting phone “meta-data,” which includes the phone numbers involved in a call, the call’s length and time it occurred. It does not collect information on the content of the calls.
After six months, the NSA will not be able to collect this data under the new law. Instead, it will have to ask phone companies for the information, and it will need an order from a court.
Obama signed the bill into law on Tuesday night.
Other White House hopefuls such as Jeb Bush have staunchly defended the Patriot Act, while GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioAt CPAC, Trump lashes out at media Conquering Trump returns to conservative summit Rubio brushes off demonstrator asking about town halls MORE (Fla.) voted against the USA Freedom Act, arguing it would hurt national security.
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzBrietbart CEO reveals that Trump donors are part owners At CPAC, Trump lashes out at media Conquering Trump returns to conservative summit MORE (R-Texas), another presidential candidate, backed the bill, while presidential candidate Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulConquering Trump returns to conservative summit Rand Paul rejects label of 'Trump's most loyal stooge' GOP healthcare plans push health savings account expansion MORE (R-Ky.) voted no, arguing the changes didn’t go far enough.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another likely GOP hopeful, on Wednesday blasted passage of the new legislation, saying reforms to the NSA's data collection program made the country less safe.