McConnell urges Senate to reject changes to House-passed surveillance bill

McConnell urges Senate to reject changes to House-passed surveillance bill
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Senate 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.) urged his colleagues on Thursday to support a House-passed bill that reauthorizes lapsed surveillance programs without the broader changes being pushed for by a bipartisan coalition of reform-minded lawmakers. 

McConnell, speaking from the floor, confirmed that the Senate will vote next week on the House bill, which passed that chamber in March on a 278-136 vote.  

“The House-passed legislation we’ll take up is not a blanket reauthorization of FISA. It’s a careful update designed to provide greater accountability for the ways these authorities are exercised," McConnell said. 


“I hope the Senate will pass it next week, free of amendments that would jeopardize important tools that keep America safe," McConnell added.  

Three provisions of the 2015 USA Freedom Act expired in March after Congress left town without passing a reauthorization through both chambers.  

The House passed its bill, which pairs a reauthorization of the intelligence programs with some changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts. The Senate passed a short-term extension that the House did not take up. 

The three expired sections of the USA Freedom Act are the "lone wolf" program, dealing with individuals potentially inspired by but not directly linked to a terrorist organization; "roving" wiretaps that let the government track an individual across multiple devices; and Section 215, which includes a controversial phone records collection program. 

The House bill reauthorized the lone wolf and roving wiretap provisions, while amending and reauthorizing Section 215, and included FISA reforms such as requiring the attorney general to sign off on warrant applications involving elected officials. 


“It will increase transparency in the FISA process and respond to the shameful abuses of 2016 while preserving the toolbox that professionals use to defend us," McConnell added.  

But reform-minded lawmakers say it does not go far enough and are pushing for additional changes that, if included, would force the bill to go back to the House.  

Under a deal struck by Senate leadership, senators will vote on three amendments: One from Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci says he puts 'very little weight in the craziness of condemning me' Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Rand Paul does not support a national minimum wage increase — and it's important to understand why MORE (R-Ky.) preventing FISA warrants from being used against Americans, one from Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (R-Utah) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy MORE (D-Vt.) on appointing outside advisers, and one from Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE (R-Mont) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Wyden warns: 'Today's fires are not your grandfather's wildfires' Hillicon Valley: Cyber agency says SolarWinds hack could have been deterred | Civil rights groups urge lawmakers to crack down on Amazon's 'dangerous' worker surveillance | Manchin-led committee puts forth sprawling energy infrastructure proposal MORE (D-Ore.) to prevent law enforcement from obtaining internet browsing and search history without a warrant. 

Each of the amendments are expected to need 60 votes, making it likely that they fall short of being added to the bill. McConnell, as part of the agreement, has the option of offering a competing amendment to each. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOn The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling Psaki: Biden 'believes' Congress will lift debt limit despite spending battle Congress barrels toward debt cliff MORE (R-S.D.) told The Hill on Wednesday that he hopes the House bill passes without changes, but stopped short of guaranteeing that each of the amendment attempts would fail.  

"I suspect that in the end, hopefully, the product will be the House bill," he said.