Rand Paul: 'I will force the expiration' of Patriot Act
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Paul, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, also promised he would shut down attempts to authorize the USA Freedom Act, an alternative piece of proposed legislation.
 
“I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans,” Paul wrote on his website.
 
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“The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end,” he said, citing the warrantless bulk collection of metadata from individuals’ phone records by the National Security Administration (NSA).
 
“Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice and we are better than that as a nation and as a people,” he said.
 
“So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program,” Paul added.
 
The Patriot Act is scheduled to expire at midnight Sunday unless the Senate renews some or all of the law.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called a rare Sunday session for solving the debate over the legislation’s controversial details.
 
Paul has vowed he will prevent any vote on either an extension of the Patriot Act or its potential replacement in the USA Freedom Act.
 
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who cosponsored the USA Freedom Act, slammed Paul’s planned maneuvers.
 
“Because opponents of reform have run out the clock and jam the Senate, we are not left with much time,” Leahy will say in a floor statement Sunday. “But the Senate could consider a limited number of amendments now. We can get this done today.”
 
President Obama urged Congress on Saturday to authorize the USA Freedom Act as soon as possible before the end of the weekend.
 
“Put the politics aside,” he said in his weekly address. “Put our national security first. Pass the USA Freedom Act – now.”
 
The proposed legislative fix is considered a compromise between privacy advocates and national security hawks.
 
It would end the NSA’s program collecting phone record metadata entirely, and renew many counterterrorism and intelligence measures contained in the Patriot Act that advocates say are essential for America’s safety.
 
Paul and other critics of the act have argued it still allows too much government overreach into the lives of everyday Americans.
 
Paul has made the issue a major topic on the 2016 campaign trial.
 
Many of his possible rivals for the Republican nomination next election cycle have criticized the Kentucky lawmaker’s stance as too soft on terrorism.
 
Govs. Bobby Jindal (La.), Chris Christie (N.J.) and Scott Walker (Wis.) all attacked Paul’s position earlier this week, claiming it endangers U.S. national security.
 
All three men have long teased 2016 bids but have yet to officially enter the race.
 
- Updated at 3:05 a.m.