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McConnell doesn't want the U.S. to "go dark" over NSA bill, explains split with Paul on issue

05/17/2015 05:25 PM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell further illustrated the split between himself and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul over government surveillance programs while speaking on a Sunday morning program.

McConnell told ABC’s “This Week” the surveillance program operated by the National Security Administration that bulk collects Americans’ telephone records under the Patriot Act, which is set to expire at the end of the month, is vital to protecting the United States.

“We know the terrorist overseas are trying to recruit people in our country to commit atrocities in our country,” McConnell said.

McConnell said the House version of the bill could essentially force intelligence collection to “go dark” if the surveillance program was shuttered.

“I’m afraid the House-passed bill will be the end of the program and we will not be able to have yet another tool that we need to be able to combat this terrorist threat from overseas,” he said.

Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, is taking the opposite view of the Senate majority leader.

Paul has made much of his presidential bid about protecting individual freedoms, including an oft-repeated line that “our phone records are none of their damn business.”

When asked about the split amongst the Kentucky delegation, McConnell told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he and Paul “agree on most things” but “we don’t agree on this.”

“We’re just in a different place on this. Reasonable people can differ,” McConnell said.

McConnell would like to see a two-month extension on the program, something Stephanopoulos quipped could lead to a filibuster.

“Well, you know, everybody threatens to filibuster. We’ll see what happens,” McConnell said. “But this is the security of the country we’re talking about here. This is no small matter.”

The Senate plans to vote on the NSA bill after voting on fast-track trade agreements, an issue on which McConnell and President Barack Obama agree.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.


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