U.S. Senate passes USA Freedom Act despite Sen. McConnell's attempted amendments

06/02/2015 06:07 PM

With a 67-32 vote the U.S. Senate passed the USA Freedom Act, legislation which reforms how certain U.S. agencies collect data and conduct surveillance.

The vote comes after multiple maneuvers by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, to thwart the USA Freedom Act and the Patriot Act, a bill favored by Kentucky’s senior U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The eventual passage of the Freedom Act was not supported by either senator for different reasons. Paul thought the bill goes too far while McConnell says the bill does too little.

“I cannot support passage of the so-called USA Freedom Act,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate. “It does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens, and it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool from our war-fighters at exactly the wrong time.”

By Monday afternoon McConnell ran out of maneuvers to save provisions of the Patriot Act, as amendment after amendment was defeated by his colleagues.

The passage comes days after the Patriot Act officially expired and nearly a month since a federal appeals court ruled the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone data exceeded congressional intent under section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was initially passed under President George W. Bush.

The USA Freedom Act had already cleared the U.S. House on May 22 with four of Kentucky’s U.S. representatives backing the bill: U.S. Reps. Andy Barr, Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield.

Two of Kentucky’s representatives in the House voted against the bill: U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Democrat in Congress.

Barr, R-Lexington, discussed his vote for the USA Freedom Act with Pure Politics at Saturday’s GOP Lincoln Dinner in Lexington.

Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, also explained his affirmative vote for the act, saying the bill strikes a balance between security and safety.


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