Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are trying to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (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.

{mosads}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 Reid (Nev.), Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), and Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Patty Murray (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.”

Tags Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Harry Reid Mitch McConnell nsa Patriot Act Patty Murray

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