Dems: McConnell NSA plan 'backfired'
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are trying to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats go down to the wire with Manchin Schumer unloads on GOP over elections bill: 'How despicable of a man is Donald Trump?' This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-Ky.) to back legislation reforming the National Security Agency’s surveillance laws.

They argue that McConnell’s efforts to block the USA Freedom Act, which the House approved in a bipartisan 338-88 vote, have “backfired” and that the nation is now perilously close to a lapse of vital national security programs.


McConnell’s decision to block the bill has “left our country without a clear path forward when it comes to our national security and civil liberties,” the statement from the top four Senate Democratic leaders said. “The time for game-playing is over.”

The statement was signed by Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (Nev.), Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats go down to the wire with Manchin Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave MORE (Ill.), and Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHeatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (N.Y.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPublic option fades with little outcry from progressives Senate GOP blocks bill to combat gender pay gap OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps MORE (Wash.).

The Senate is set to hold a rare Sunday session to try to pass legislation reforming the NSA ahead of a midnight deadline. Provisions in the Patriot Act that authorize the collection of phone metadata will expire at that point.

McConnell backs a clean extension of the Patriot Act that makes no changes to the law.

Top lawmakers and their aides are trying to reach a deal before the Senate returns, but the four top Senate Democrats said “we have not moved any closer towards a solution.”

The White House has also stepped up its pressure on McConnell; Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) suggested earlier this week that the USA Freedom Act is the only “viable” option. 

The Democrats added that without McConnell's opposition, the legislation would easily pass the Senate. 

“We strongly urge you to drop your opposition to the USA Freedom Act,” they said. “Allow your Republican members to vote their conscience and allow this bill to move forward.”