President Obama pressured the Senate on Saturday to immediately authorize the USA Freedom Act.
“Today, I’m calling on Americans to join me in speaking with one voice to the Senate,” Obama said in his weekly address.
“Put the politics aside,” he said. “Put our national security first. Pass the USA Freedom Act — now.”
Obama said the proposed legislation was the best way to replace some Patriot Act provisions expiring Sunday night without quick congressional action.
It struck a measured balance between privacy rights and protecting national security, he added.
“As president and commander in chief, my greatest responsibility is the safety of the American people,” Obama said.
“And in our fight against terrorists, we need to use every effective tool at our disposal – both to defend our security and to protect the freedoms and civil liberties enshrined in our Constitution.”
Obama also argued that extremists could exploit even the smallest gaps in the nation’s intelligence capabilities.
“Terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow,” Obama said. “And we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe.”
“It would be irresponsible,” Obama added. “It would be reckless. And we shouldn’t allow it to happen.”
The USA Freedom Act would renew several major counterterrorism and intelligence measures detailed in the Patriot Act.
It was also stop the bulk, warrantless collection of individual phone records by the National Security Administration.
Advocates argue the USA Freedom Act presents a compromise between privacy and national security concerns.
Critics have countered it still allows too much government overreach into the personal lives of everyday Americans.
The GOP presidential candidate and his supporters have charged the law violates the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.