Obama lauds Senate for 'finally' passing NSA bill

Obama lauds Senate for 'finally' passing NSA bill

President Obama on Tuesday thanked the Senate for “finally” passing a bill to reform the country’s surveillance laws after an impasse caused key provisions of the Patriot Act to lapse. 

Obama said he would sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
 
“Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I'll sign it as soon as I get it,” Obama tweeted. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The Senate voted 67-32 to pass the USA Freedom Act almost two days after the National Security Agency’s bulk phone data collection program was forced to shut down. 
 
Obama and administration officials had sharply criticized for failing to extend the surveillance authorities ahead of last Sunday’s deadline, saying it hampered national security investigations. 
 
For weeks, the president urged the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act, which cleared the House with a bipartisan 338-88 vote. But the measure was opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE (R-Ky.), who feared it would weaken national security. 
 
The USA Freedom Act replaces the controversial NSA program that collected Americans’ phone records in bulk. It prevents the agency from storing the records and requires investigators to obtain them from phone companies.

In a statement, Obama slammed lawmakers for "a needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities."

He said his administration "will work expeditiously" to restore the expired surveillance programs "to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country."

Obama said the reforms "will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs."

- Updated at 6:26 p.m.