Week ahead: Sunday showdown on Patriot Act

Senators will head back to Washington for a rare Sunday session to grapple with soon-to-expire sections of the Patriot Act.

As the clock ticks down to Sunday at midnight, all eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-Ky.), who so far has failed to budge in his opposition to a consensus reform measure.

It is unclear exactly what bills senators will consider on Sunday, though reformers are hoping to get another chance at passing the USA Freedom Act, a bill overwhelmingly approved by the House earlier this month.


Without some action, sections of the Patriot Act deemed vital to national security by the White House will expire. As of Friday afternoon, the path forward remained unclear.

The Senate has also scheduled several hearings related to the cyber theft of taxpayer data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold events Tuesday to probe what caused the tax returns of 100,000 people to become vulnerable.

Lawmakers have already taken a keen interest in finding out why the theft occurred.

“Every year, the IRS collects more than 140 million individual tax returns, roughly 6 million corporate tax returns, and millions of sensitive information returns and other filings,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals MORE (R-Utah) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen this week.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the confidential taxpayer information your agency holds is of the utmost private nature for every single taxpayer in the United States,” he added.

Healthcare data privacy will also loom large at two events off Capitol Hill.

The Health Data Consortium is holding its annual Health Datapalooza in Woodley Park from Monday through Wednesday. The event will include a town hall specifically dealing with health data security on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday and Thursday, the Georgetown University Law Center will hold its fifth annual summit on the future of health privacy.


More stories:

Backup plans to keep the Patriot Act around are in trouble: http://bit.ly/1eCYn70

A United Nations report released this week argues strong encryption is fundamental to exercising basic human rights: http://bit.ly/1Ktg6HZ

Tech firms are apprehensively waiting for China’s five-year cyber plan to drop: http://bit.ly/1dC50Gu

House lawmakers want to know, “Who’s looking for cyber flaws in cars?”: http://bit.ly/1ACTYL0

The FBI may have forgotten to re-up some of its seized domains: http://bit.ly/1FSf097