WASHINGTON - Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) asked for unanimous consent Tuesday, to begin debate on the House-passed USA Freedom Act so that the Senate could act to preserve a vital intelligence committee program before it expires Sunday, May 31st.
“Free trade is of absolute importance in this country,” Lee said. “It is not, however, as pressing as another matter that we should be considering now. Certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire a week from Sunday at midnight. This is an important issue and it is one that deserves debate and full consideration in the United States Senate."
If agreed to, Lee’s request would have allowed debate to begin on the House-passed USA Freedom Act with altering amendments from both parties. But the motion was blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) who promised to work through the weekend if necessary on a solution to the issue.
“We have had months and months to plan for this deadline, years in fact,” Lee continued. “And during these past several months we have worked with House members, members of the law enforcement community, members of the intelligence community, to create a compromise bill that now enjoys the support of the Attorney General of the United States, of the Director of National Intelligence, the telecom industry, the NRA, the tech community, privacy groups, and 338 members of the House of Representatives. This is a super majority. A super-duper majority. We’ve had a week since the House passed this bill and it is time that we took it up in earnest and gave it the full attention and consideration of the Senate. Then we can return to TPA and finish it without facing expiration of a key national security tool without anything to put in its place.”