The Senate is supposed to be finishing up a six-week work period, but would lawmakers really leave for the Memorial Day recess without resolving the debate over National Security Agency surveillance?
For Sen. Rand Paul the answer is “yes,” because a lack of affirmative legislative action by the Senate by June 1 would mean the expiration of the authorities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
“We could do something extraordinary,” the Kentucky Republican said Thursday. In the event of an outright lapse in the authorization, Paul said, “I see no reason why we couldn’t use the Constitution for awhile.”
Paul, whose filibuster of CIA Director John O. Brennan’s nomination over drone policy elevated his profile nationally, plans to do it again.
McConnell, who has favored a full extension of the program until near the end of the next presidential administration, floated a two-month stopgap late Thursday, but Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., tweeted shortly thereafter, “Two months is two months too long.”
The White House also upped the pressure, with spokesman Eric Schultz telling reporters Friday the Senate should not go home without clearing the House bill.
If senators fail to pass the House bill, “they will be weakening our nation’s security and stand in the way of reforms … that would enhance the American people’s trust and confidence in the agencies tasked with protecting them.”