Ellison backing Paul's Patriot Act push

Ellison backing Paul's Patriot Act push
© Anne Wernikoff

Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota sues Juul over rise in youth vaping Jane Fonda calls for protecting water resources at weekly DC climate protest Progressives ramp up fight against Facebook MORE (D-Minn.), a leading House progressive, said Sunday that he and other liberal Democrats agree with libertarian Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law McConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' MORE’s (R-Ky.) aggressive push to end sections of the Patriot Act.

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“I think there's a lot of folks on the liberal left end of the party who definitely think that section 215, this bulk collection, probably should expire, that it hasn't had much value, and it is incredibly intrusive for Americans collecting everybody's phone information,” Ellison said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Paul held the Senate floor for 10 hours last week protesting the Patriot Act and its collection of bulk communications data from American citizens. The Senate broke for its Memorial Day recess early Saturday without renewing several portions of the law due to expire at the end of the month.

“I think that it is absolutely the case that there is a bipartisan agreement that the Patriot Act went too far and certain provisions of it should expire,” Ellison said.

“At the end of the day for me it's about trying to do the best we can by our Constitution and the American people. We might cut the cake differently on taxes policy, but on these basic, core issues of freedom, we agree.”

Ellison’s support for Paul — beyond surveillance, the two have worked together on issues like civil forfeiture and mandatory minimum sentencing — caused a minor stir among Ellison’s liberal followers on Twitter, so he explained his position further in a series of tweets.

“If it's your job to try to solve complex political problems, you can't say ‘unless we agree on everything we don't agree on anything,’ ” he wrote. “Surprised to hear some people want to reject help from libertarians on privacy & criminal justice reform unless they adopt our agenda.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a conservative, replied to one: “Keith and I disagree on many important issues, but that should not prevent us from working together wherever we can.”