As Paul talks, House lawmakers warn Senate not to dawdle

As Paul talks, House lawmakers warn Senate not to dawdle

Dozens of House lawmakers told Senate leaders on Wednesday not to weaken or put off legislation to reform the National Security Agency (NSA).

As Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) launched a tirade against the NSA from the Senate floor, Reps. John LewisJohn LewisKatherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent Democratic lawmaker says officials tried to keep her from migrant girls during facility tour Democratic outrage grows over conditions at border detention centers MORE (D-Ga.), Justin AmashJustin AmashSC Republican Mark Sanford considering primary challenge to Trump Democrats erupt over Trump attacks Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller MORE (R-Mich.) and 58 others warned leaders of the upper chamber that the House would not accept a watered-down bill ahead of a key June 1 deadline of the Patriot Act.


“Congress has had ample time for debate,” they wrote in a letter to Senate leaders. “We must not kick the can down the road with a short-term reauthorization. Nor will we acquiesce to any effort to weaken this legislation.”

A short-term reauthorization is exactly what Senate GOP leaders have preferred.

While the Senate will take up the USA Freedom Act — which sailed through the House 338-88 last week — GOP leaders have expected it to fail. That failure would give them a strong enough hand to push through a short-term renewal of three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, they believe, which otherwise would expire at the end of the month.  

That tactic is likely to meet opposition in the House, however, where many lawmakers have demanded some reforms to the NSA in exchange for extending the Patriot Act provisions.

Most of the 88 lawmakers who opposed the USA Freedom Act did so not because they thought it would gut the nation’s spying powers — as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has warned — but that it does not go far enough.

All of the 60 House lawmakers signing on to Wednesday’s bill voted against the USA Freedom Act.

“Many of our colleagues felt similarly, supporting the bill only out of concern the Senate would be unwilling to engage in more comprehensive reform,” they wrote.