Senate Kills House Bill To End NSA Bulk Data Collection

The fate of the National Security Agency's ability to collect phone records on a mass scale has yet to be determined as the Senate continues to shoot down measures passed by the House of Representatives. One of those measures was the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would effectively put an end to bulk telephone data collection.

It's a bill that President Barack Obama and his administration adamantly supported. The House of Representatives also was favor of the USA Freedom Act, as both Republicans and Democrats came together to approve the measure with a majority 338-to-88 vote. However, the bill stalled in the Senate, where it was shot down by a 57-to-42 vote, coming up three votes short of the 60 needed. This was after presidential hopeful Paul Rand spoke for over 10 and a half hours in attempted filibuster to prevent a vote.

Image Source: Flickr (Larry Lamsa)

"The Senate has failed to make the important reforms necessary, jeopardizing Americans' civil liberties and our national security," backers of the bill in the House said in a joint statement.

This all has to do with the Patriot Act, a bill that was passed in reaction to the terrorist events on September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act significantly expanded the government's surveillance powers, though the extent of those powers didn't come to light until former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked scores of confidential documents to the press.

In addition to blocking the USA Freedom Act, the Senate also acted against renewing the Patriot Act, portions of which will expire at the end of the month. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican - Kentucky) ordered the Senate to return for a rare Sunday session on May 31, giving them 12 more hours to figure out a solution.