Senate NSA compromise likely to come next week

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is close but not yet ready to unveil a negotiated measure to rein in government surveillance.

Despite reports that the bill could be revealed this week, people familiar with the discussions said Leahy will actually release the compromise legislation as early as Tuesday.

Leahy has been working with the administration on a compromise. 

Earlier this week, an aide said conversations had turned a corner and they were “within inches” of an agreement. Leahy said Tuesday that he was “far more encouraged that we can finally come up with some legislation that will do two things.”

The final bill will create “clear cut guidelines of what [intelligence agencies] can and cannot do” and “let the American people know that their privacy is going to be protected,” Leahy said.

Leahy is the Senate sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, a bill introduced last year — after former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs — aimed at curbing government surveillance.

Earlier this year, the House passed its version of USA Freedom Act, sponsored by Patriot Act author Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.).

While the bill was initially widely supported on and off Capitol Hill, tech companies and privacy advocates pulled their support citing concerns that eleventh-hour negotiations between the administration and House leadership left the bill watered down.

Since that House vote, Leahy has pledged to work on and build support for a stronger bill than the House-passed version with the hopes of moving it this summer.

The Leahy aide said earlier this week that the bill could go straight to the Senate floor rather than through Leahy’s committee.