Rand Paul threatens to filibuster Patriot Act renewal

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who energized conservatives, independents and even many progressives in 2013 with his 13-hour drone filibuster, has now threatened to do the same if the Senate attempts to reauthorize the National Security Agency’s mass data collection programs. The New Hampshire Union Leader reports:

“I’m going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward,” he said in a one-on-one interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader. “We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us. And we are going to demand amendments and we are going to make sure the American people know that some of us at least are opposed to unlawful searches.”

This statement comes on the heels of Paul’s praise for the recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision calling the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records illegal. This court decision might impact the upcoming congressional fight over reauthorizing several key provisions of the Patriot Act, including Section 215 that has been used to justify warrantless surveillance and data collection.

Paul’s potential filibuster could pit him against one of his strongest supporters in GOP leadership, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has been fighting to extend the Patriot Act. McConnell introduced legislation last month to reauthorize the Patriot Act until 2020 without any meaningful reforms or revisions.

The renewal efforts have been met with resistance in the House and Senate.

In March, Representatives Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) introduced a bill in the House that would effectively repeal the Patriot Act and install protections for whistleblowers like former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In the Senate, Ron Wyden (D-Or.) has also threatened a filibuster over reauthorization of the Patriot Act in an interview with MSNBC.

With the clock ticking as Congress approaches the June 1st sunset date for some of its key provisions, the Patriot Act’s future remains uncertain.

And if push comes to shove, there may be another long day of filibustering ahead for Rand Paul.

Nick Morpus About the author:
Nick Morpus is a contributor at IJ Review and runs the website Liberty Minds. Follow him @nickmorpus
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