Welcome! C4L Staff, Norm Singleton, Tim Shoemaker, and Megan Stiles will be live blogging the action in the Senate tonight here. Be sure to hit refresh!
Also there is still time to call your Senators and tell them to vote NO: 202-224-3121.
You can watch the proceedings live on C-SPAN.
4:01 PM: Megan: Senate is now in session after opening prayer.
4:04 PM: Megan: McConnell asks that the first hour be divided equally between R’s and D’s.
4:05 PM: Megan: To recap, the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act (including section 215 which the government has been using to justify its bulk data collection on all Americans) are set to expire at midnight tonight, unless the Senate Acts. Campaign for Liberty opposes any legislation that extends the Patriot Act.
4:08 PM: Norm: McConnell asks to recess at 5 which suggests he doesn’t have the votes.
4:09 PM: Norm: Harry Reid is now attacking McConnell for acting like Reid did when he was majority leader.
4:10 PM: Megan: Harry Reid still sporting his sunglasses.
4:12 PM: Megan: Reid calling for Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act. FYI this still extends the Patriot Act and allows bulk data collection.
4:14 PM: Norm: Harry Reid says the only way to extend the Patriot Act is the pass USA Freedom Act. (This is why C4L OPPOSES USA Freedom Act)
4:16 PM: Megan: Senators going back and forth between talking about how the end is near if the Patriot Act expires and offering condolences to the Biden family.
4:17 PM: Tim: When the Senate finally gets down to business they will try to ram through the USA FREEDOM Act. It’s the only vehicle to extend the expiring provisions. And Americans are being told this “reform” bill is what you and I must settle for. Americans must demand more — keep calling your senators this evening 202-224-3121
4:21 PM: Megan: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on USA Freedom Act: “Just take it up and pass it!”
4:23 PM: Norm: When the Senate recesses at 5 there will be lots of behind-the-scenes deal-making and arm-twisting, this is a key time so Campaign for Liberty members need to keep up the heat…call their senators and get your friends and family to call. (202-224-3121) When I called my senator, Mark Warner, he had staff answering the phones on a Sunday!
4:30 PM: Norm: Senator Leahy is praising USA FREEDOM as “bipartisan compromise”…yep as they say we live in a two party system, the stupid party and the evil party. Sometimes they work together to pass legislation that is both stupid and evil and then they praise themselves for being bipartisan.
4:33 PM: Norm: Sen. Leahy wants USA FREEDOM’s critics to come up with their own ideas…ok how about following the Fourth Amendment?
4:30 PM: Tim: The only real “reform” bill Congress should be considering is H.R. 1466, the Surveillance State Repeal Act – to repeal the “Patriot” Act, 2008 FISA Amendments Act, and rein in Executive Order 12333, along with making other necessary reforms. The USA FREEDOM Act is a watered-down compromised bill intended to save these expiring provisions until 2019.
4:36 PM: Megan: If I am listening correctly, Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) is apparently afraid that the USA Freedom Act would water down the Patriot Act too much.
4:37 PM: Norm: Thomas Massie is in the House! (well actually the Senate)
4:38 PM: Tim: And Justin Amash, watching the debate
4:39 PM: Megan: Dan Coats really loves the Patriot Act. PSA: he’s retiring!
4:43 PM: Norm: Coats is repeating the same old claims about how these provisions are necessary, even though the FBI says they are not.
4:44 PM: Tim: Coats is also repeating the lie that Sec. 215 has never been abused. Here’s proof: https://www.emptywheel.net/2015/05/22/the-section-215-rap-sheet/
4:48 PM: Megan: Coats now claiming that USA Freedom Act will render section 215 “completely useless.”
4:49 PM: Norm: Wow even the USA FREEDOM Act is too much for Coats.
4:52 PM: Tim: There are three procedural votes scheduled for 6pm tonight, including on the USA FREEDOM Act. Keep the calls going 202-224-3121 and demand your senator oppose ANY extension of the “Patriot” Act.
4:52 PM: Megan: Just a reminder that the Senate has known for 4 years that these provisions were expiring but are just debating this now (and using the ticking clock to pressure fence-sitting senators).
4:55 PM: Megan: Coats now claims that the NSA’s bulk collection program has more oversight than any other program in government.
4:57 PM: Megan: Senator Rand Paul tries to speak, but Coats refuses to yield the floor. Coats yields to Senator McCain for a question and McCain asks Coats how imminent another terror attack is.
5:00 PM: Megan: Senator Paul asks to speak, using the Democrats’ time and Senator McCain objects. Senator Paul requests to overrule the chair and requests a recorded vote. There is not a sufficient second. Senator Paul requests a live quorum call, which is happening now.
5:01 PM: Norm: They are clearly trying to silence debate by not allowing any Patriot Act opponents to speak.
5:05 PM: Tim: This is about as exciting as the Senate gets. Nobody requests live quorum calls. Kudos to Senator Paul for refusing to be bullied on the floor by Senators McCain and Coats.
5:05 PM: Megan: Senator Paul asks consent to call off the quorum call. No objection. Asks consent to speak for 5 min. No objection. Senator Paul speaking now for 5 min.
5:07 PM: Norm: Stand with Rand.
5:07 PM: Tim: Senator Paul gets his five minutes. Pay attention to this speech, folks.
5:12 PM: Megan: Senator Paul gives great speech opposing government surveillance and defending the 4th Amendment. Senate is now in recess.
5:14 PM: Norm: GOP Conference is meeting NOW. This is the crucial time to call your Senators at 202-224-3121!
5:19 PM: Tim: Now we wait until 6pm. Keep the calls going — this is a vital time to exert last minute influence on fence-riding members. 202-224-3121
5:45 PM: Megan: Right now we are waiting for the Senate to come back, which should be around 6. Keep those phone calls coming! 202-224-3121
5:46 PM: Megan: Kudos to CNN for getting video of Senator Paul’s speech up so fast!
6:15 PM: Tim: It’s inappropriate for Virginia Senator Tim Kaine to not staff his office this evening. Just a dropbox recording that hangs up on you. Are you having problems calling your senator? Let us know by sending us an email [email protected]
6:16 PM: Megan: McConnell asks unanimous consent to extend section 215 for two weeks. Rand Paul objects.
6:21 PM: Megan: McConnell lamenting that the government only collects your metadata. Except that can tell you a lot
6:23 PM: Tim: Despite McConnell’s claims to the contrary, these provisions are highly controversial. Completely undermine constitutional protections of privacy.
6:25 PM: Tim: Mitch McConnell claims these authorities are VITAL to our national security. If that were the case, why is the government not capable of highlighting even ONE case where these surveillance provisions proved instrumental to solving a case?
6:26 PM: Tim: McConnell gives two options: Option 1: Allow the program to expire altogether without replacing it — YES! Option 2: Pass the House-passed USA FREEDOM Act, the only viable vehicle the Senate has to continue domestic surveillance.
6:27 PM: Megan: McConnell moves to reconsider the motion to proceed on the House-passed USA Freedom Act. Senate now voting. 60 votes needed to proceed.
6:33 PM: Tim: Remember, they were only three votes shy last week. The Senate is very likely to get 60 on this vote and begin debating the USA FREEDOM Act. The real question is, what comes next?
6:36 PM: Megan: For those wondering why we were asking people to call Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to tell him to oppose Patriot Act, he just voted YES on motion to proceed on USA Freedom Act, which extends Patriot Act.
6:48 PM: Megan: Senate is still voting but looks like they have the votes to proceed. Now what? We wait and see.
6:57 PM: Megan: I can see Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Durbin (D-IL) talking to Senator Paul on the floor. Wonder what they are saying!
7:02 PM: Tim: I see Tim Kaine on the Senate floor right now. Too bad he doesn’t care enough about what Virginians think of this legislation to have staffers manning the phone lines right now.
7:05 PM: Megan: FYI they are still voting. Looks like a lot of negotiating happening on the Senate floor right now.
7:07 PM: Megan: Motion to proceed to debate on USA Freedom Act passes 77-17.
7:08 PM: Megan: Senator Paul speaking now.
7:10 PM: Tim: Senator Paul is now claiming an hour of time for debate on USA FREEDOM Act.
7:10 PM: Norm: Rand says USA Freedom outsources phone record collection to the phone companies.
7:15 PM: Tim: Rand: “They tell you if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. That’s a far cry from the standard we were founded under, innocent until proven guilty.”
7:20 PM: Megan: Rand says he will propose amendments to USA Freedom Act.
7:21 PM: Megan: Rand says he will propose an amendment requiring officials to specify the name of the individual before searching phone records, rather than a corporation (i.e. AT&T or Verizon)
7:24 PM: Tim: Short of something completely unexpected happening, the three controversial provisions of the “Patriot” Act up for reauthorization will likely expire tonight. The Senate however will continue working on USA FREEDOM Act into the week. That’s when the real fight will begin, in an attempt to strengthen the USA FREEDOM Act so the “reform” bill actually makes some substantive changes to protect our civil liberties. If your senators said USAFA was a good “first step,” contact them early and often and DEMAND they support Senator Paul’s amendments to strengthen the USAFA and restore our lost liberties.
7:28 PM: Norm: Rand wants to amend USA Freedom Act to make it comply with the Constitution by restoring probable cause for warrants.
7:37 PM: Tim: I, for one, will be toasting the symbolic sunset of the “Patriot” Act with a glass of fine Kentucky bourbon – Booker’s, to be precise – in honor of the good junior senator from Kentucky.
8:05 PM: Megan: The Senate is still debating the USA Freedom Act. Right now Senator Wyden has the floor. But for now it appears the Patriot Act will sunset at midnight. Stay tuned for updates this week as the Senate is sure to try to restore these spying powers. And call your senators! 202-224-3121
8:14 PM: Norm: Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich make me nostalgic for the days when the majority of Democrats supported civil liberties.