National Security

NSA reformer: We’ve got the votes

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The leading Republican behind a Senate effort to rein in the National Security Agency (NSA) said on Sunday that he expected to have the 60 votes necessary to advance his bill later in the afternoon.

At the same time, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) acknowledged that Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) pledge to “force an expiration” of parts of the Patriot Act may delay the final passage until later in the week — after the three provisions expire.

{mosads}“I do believe we have the votes,” Lee said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“At this point, I think is not about whether we get this passed but when,” he added. “It’ll happen either tonight or it’ll happen on Wednesday, or somewhere within that 72 hour window.”

Lee is one of the authors of the USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records while also renewing the expiring parts of the post-9/11 counterterrorism law. The Senate is scheduled to take a rare Sunday evening vote on that bill, but Paul’s continued opposition could push it past the midnight deadline.

“Sen. Paul and I share similar concerns about the collection of bulk metadata,” Lee said on Sunday. “We do differ as to the strategy for how to deal with it.”

“Although he and I share a similar concern, I don’t agree with his approach and I’ve taken a different approach here,” he added.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) has opposed Lee’s bill, because it would not impose any requirements on phone companies to hold onto subscribers’ records so they could be handed over to the NSA.

However, he appeared to accept on Sunday that the bill seemed destined to pass.

“I would hope that those who are making a big deal of standing in the way and potentially blocking realize that all they’re potentially doing is to slow something down for two or three days,” King said.

“Really it’s a question of whether people are going to make a big production of objecting and it ends up being passed on Tuesday or Wednesday and we’re in the same place we were, only we lost two or three days,” he added. “I don’t want to exaggerate the risk, but it creates the risk that we wont have a tool in our national security toolbox.”

Tags Mike Lee Patriot Act Sunday shows USA Freedom Act

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