The White House is urging Congress not to put off a fight over expiring portions of the Patriot Act used to justify a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.
“Our strategy on these important security matters is to not kick the can down the road,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters on Monday.
“Congress has known of this impending deadline for months and months,” he added. “The June 1st expiration should not be taking anyone by surprise.”
The comments come as a rebuke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Schumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Hoyer says Dec. 15 is drop-dead deadline to hike debt ceiling MORE (R-Ky.), who has opened the door to a short-term extension of parts of the law set to expire at the end of the month.
While McConnell would like to see the law renewed without change, he appears to have realized that effort would face a nearly impossible uphill climb in the upper chamber. Last week, he opened the door to a two-month extension of the law, presumably in order to allow lawmakers to settle on a more permanent path forward.
It’s unlikely whether that brief extension could pass, however, given the strong calls for reform to the law coming from both sides of the aisle.
Lawmakers as ideologically diverse as liberal Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyVermont Lt. Gov. launches bid for US House Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans MORE (D-Vt.), Tea Party darling Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeDemand Justice launches ad campaign backing Biden nominee who drew GOP pushback Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Utah) and presidential hopefuls Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' Bob Dole: heroic, prickly and effective Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE (R-Texas) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul: Chris Cuomo firing 'a small step toward CNN regaining any credibility' GOP anger with Fauci rises Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default MORE (R-Ky.) have opposed extending the current law for any length of time without changes. Instead, many of those critics have rallied behind legislation that would renew the expiring provisions while also reforming them to prevent the NSA from collecting bulk records on millions of Americans’ phone calls.
The White House has also put its support behind that bill, called the USA Freedom Act.
It sailed through the House last week on a 338-88 vote, but McConnell has warned it could put intelligence agencies to pre-9/11 standards.