The Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a revised version of the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday promising “more oversight, transparency and privacy requirements aimed at the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone and Internet records.”
It’s unclear when the bill will come to a vote, as we’re days away from the August recess, and the silly season will be in full swing when lawmakers return to Capital Hill in September.
Via USA Today:
The Freedom Act – first introduced in October by Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., in the House – is unique from other bills responding to revelations of broad NSA surveillance because it would end the automatic bulk collection of phone records. Leahy has been negotiating with the Obama administration and other members of the Senate and the intelligence community on changes to the legislation since a compromise version of the legislation passed the House in May.
Leahy said in a statement that the revised bill balances privacy and transparency with the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor national security threats.
“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA Patriot Act 13 years ago,” he said. “This is a debate about Americans’ fundamental relationship with their government – about whether our government should have the power to create massive databases of information about its citizens.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill, released the following statement regarding the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014:
“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Sen. Cruz. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms. Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights. I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”
The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 was introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont. Sen. Cruz and Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are original co-sponsors.