Obama signs NSA bill, renewing Patriot Act powers

Obama signs NSA bill, renewing Patriot Act powers
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President Obama signed legislation into law on Tuesday evening reinstating key counterterrorism laws and reforming the government’s surveillance powers.

The announcement from the White House that Obama had signed the USA Freedom Act came a few hours after the bill sailed through the Senate 67-32, following a protracted debate that lasted for weeks and forced some of the provisions to expire for nearly two days.

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With Obama’s signature, three parts of the Patriot Act — including the controversial Section 215 — came back into force after expiring Monday morning.

The bill also enacts the most sweeping surveillance reforms in a generation, for the first time in years putting new restrictions on federal intelligence powers.

The USA Freedom Act ends the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, limits other ways the government collects large amounts of records and adds new transparency measures to the way the government collects information.

The Senate’s overwhelming passage of the bill comes after a weeks-long standoff following the House’s approval by 338-88. During the protracted fight, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSecond senator tests positive for coronavirus antibodies Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks Tim Kaine tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies MORE (R-Ky.) — a presidential candidate — used procedural tactics to force the expiration of the Patriot Act measures.

Amid the dispute, Paul’s counterpart from Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic For city parks: Pass the Great American Outdoors Act now MORE, came under fire from both lawmakers and the White House for repeatedly attempting to block the bill, even when other legislative paths seemed impossible.