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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Five victories Democrats can be thankful for Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise MORE (R-Ky.) introduced legislation Tuesday night to extend controversial sections of the Patriot Act.
McConnell didn't offer any comments on the legislation but fast-tracked it, so it could be placed on the Senate's calendar without having to go through the committee process.
The Kentucky Republican's proposal would “extend authority relating to roving surveillance, access to business records, and individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers,” according to the legislation.
McConnell would extend expiring portions of the act through 2020, well after President Obama leaves the White House.
Provisions of the Patriot Act are currently set to expire June 1. Among them is Section 215, which the National Security Agency has used to authorize the collection of bulk records from millions of U.S. citizens’ phone calls.
McConnell's legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who chairs the Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday called McConnell's push a “tone-deaf attempt to pave the way for five and a half more years of unchecked surveillance” and added it “will not succeed.”
“Despite overwhelming consensus that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT must end, Senate Republican leaders are proposing to extend that authority without change,” he said in a statement.
“Republican leaders should be working across the aisle on legislation that protects both our national security and Americans’ privacy rights, but instead they are trying to quietly pass a straight reauthorization of the bulk collection program that has been proven ineffective and unnecessary.”
— Updated at 10:51 p.m.