Heinrich Statement On USA FREEDOM Act Status: Part Of Patriot Act Expires With Bills Failure
WASHINGTON – Portions of the Patriot Act which allow the Federal government to conduct blanket surveillance on all American residents expired at midnight May 31.
The “Freedom Act”, a compromise bill that would have retained some of the legal authority to allow limited surveillance while eliminating other powers in the Patriot Act and providing more privacy protections to citizens failed to pass the United States Senate during a last minute attempt Sunday night. This failure comes after the bill cleared an important procedural vote Sunday by a vote of 77-17. As of midnight government surveillance has been halted.
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after voting for the bipartisan USA Freedom Act and the expiration of the surveillance components of the Patriot Act. The bill cleared an important procedural vote tonight by a vote of 77-17.
“I’m pleased Republicans joined with Democrats to do what’s responsible and support the passage of the USA FREEDOM Act. This is a bipartisan compromise that would ensure that our intelligence community has the tools it needs to focus more narrowly on the records of actual terrorists, and end the bulk collection of law-abiding Americans’ private phone calls.
“But the USA FREEDOM Act passed overwhelmingly in the Republican-led House of Representatives weeks ago. It’s disappointing that the failure of Senate Republican leadership has once again led to dysfunction at the eleventh hour that was completely avoidable.
“We can and we must balance the government’s need to keep our nation safe with protecting our Constitutionally guaranteed liberties.”