Sunday, May. 31, 2015

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

May 31 2015 04:01 PM

The Senate convened.

McConnell (UC), Reid

Opening Remarks

May 31 2015 04:16 PM

Today –

  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 2048, the USA Freedom Act.
  • At 5:00 PM, the Senate will recess subject to the call of the chair.


Senator McConnell: (4:02 PM)

  • Spoke on Beau Biden.
    • "Beau Biden was known to many as a dedicated public servant, a loving father of two, and a devoted partner to the woman he loved, Hallie. I've known the vice president for many years, and it's hard to think of anything more important to him than his faith and his family. I hope he will find comfort in the former, as he grieves such a terrible loss. The Senate offers its presiding officer and every member of his family our prayers and our sympathy."
  • Unanimous Consent –
    • The time until 5:00 PM be equally divided.
    • At 5:00 PM, the Senate recess subject to the call of the chair.
  • (Without objection)


Senator Reid: (4:04 PM)

  • Spoke on Beau Biden.
    • "I was saddened really beyond words to figure out, understand the passing of Beau, who was such a fine young man. He was a devoted husband, father, son, a dedicated servant to the people of Delaware, and if a faithful, honorable veteran of the United States, having served in the Middle East in Iraq. I, of course, extend all the sympathy I'm capable of extending to his family during this very difficult time. Beau left us far too soon, 46 years old."
  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Fortunately, there is a clear way out. Pass the U.S.A. Freedom Act which the House overwhelmingly passed with 338 votes on a totally bipartisan basis. All we need is a few more Republican senators to vote with Democrats and the bill will pass. Just three, maybe four, maybe five, but a few senators. All we need to bring this unnecessary crisis to a screaming halt. I'm confident we can pass this bill if the majority leader would bring it to the floor for a fair vote. Now, procedurally, it's going to be extremely difficult to not have this bill - law expire - not a bill, this law expire. Any other course than just passing this bill would require the House to act before midnight. They're not here. So it's not going to happen. There's not a quorum of House members and there are House members that will to be any unanimous consent request anyway. Passing the U.S.A. Freedom Act is the only way that I can foresee that the PATRIOT Act provisions do not expire. Now is the time for the majority leader to do what's right for the privacy and security of all Americans."

Leahy, Coats, McCain, Paul, Recess

MTP to USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048)

May 31 2015 05:13 PM

Senator Leahy: (4:12 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "The irony of it is the U.S.A. Freedom Act of 2015 is a carefully crafted bipartisan compromise that both protects America's privacy but also keeps this country safe. Before they talk about we're going to keep the country safe, but America's privacy not so much. This is a bill that does both. The legislation would end the N.S.A. bulk collection of America's phone records. It has significant new reforms that would limit government surveillance, to increase transparency, but also promote greater accountability and oversight, something the PATRIOT Act did not have. And the bill is the product of countless hours of painstaking negotiations with key members of both Republicans and Democratic parties in the House and Senate, men and women I respect so much because they want to do what's best for the country, they negotiated with the N.S.A., the F.B.I., the Justice Department. Privacy and civil liberties group, the technology industry, other key stakeholders, brought everybody together."
  • Spoke on Beau Biden.
    • "Marcel and I have known Beau Biden since he was a child. I'm the longest-serving member of this Senate. When I came here, there was one senator who was one term senior to me. That was Joe Biden. I knew the tragedy his family had gone through, and I cherished time, with his office near mine, when his sons Beau and Hunter would be there with him. I watched them grow up. I saw Beau Biden become the epitome of what a, what a state's attorney general should be. That's a model that all attorneys general throughout the country could have followed."


Senator Coats: (4:30 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    •  "I didn't come here to do that and this Senate didn't come here to do that and we will not do that, and that's why this program has more oversight than any other program in the entire United States government, and we will put more oversight on there if that's necessary. I'll stay up all night and stand over the N.S.A. and make sure they're not listening to your phone call. But it's irresponsible, it is misrepresentation, irresponsible misrepresentation to factually state a falsity and not tell the truth, and it's time we told the truth and it's time we stood up to this thing and made sure that we're doing everything we can to protect Americans from threats. A lot of people and a lot of organizations that want to kill us all, that would like to see our heads on the chopping block. And this is real in our country as people not only flock back from Syria trained by ISIS but they inspire people here to pick up weapons and do and harm the American people."


Senator McCain: (4:54 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "ISIS has taken Palmyra. They are in the streets burning bodies, killing people, going to destroy 2,000-year-old antiquities. At the same time, Ramadi has fallen with thousands of innocent men, women and children being massacred. And at this time isn't this program as critical as it's ever been since its inception, given the fact that the Middle East is literally on fire and we are losing everywhere?"


Senator Paul: (4:59 PM)

  • Spoke on the Senate schedule.
    • "The time couldn't have been divided equally because somebody must have given one side more time than the other. The presiding officer: The five minutes of time that was allotted to the Democrat side was unused and it was divided at 23 minutes apiece. Mr. Paul: Mr. President, I was here for 30 minutes of the Republican side speaking. I sat in my seat for 30 minutes. It was not 23 minutes of equally divided time."
  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Let us be very clear why we're here this evening. We are here this evening was this is an important debate. This is a debate over the Bill of Rights. This is a debate over the fourth amendment. This is a debate over your right to be left alone. Justice Brandeis said that the right to be left alone is the most cherished of rights. The right to be left alone is the most prized to civilized men. Let us be clear, we are here tonight because the president continues to conduct an illegal program. The president has been rebuked by the court, the president has been told in explicit terms, the president has been told that the program he is conducting is illegal."


The Senate stands in recess subject to the call of the chair.

McConnell (UC), Paul

MTP to USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048)

May 31 2015 06:29 PM

Senator McConnell: (6:14 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I tried to get a short-term extension of three provisions that will expire at midnight tonight. Section 215 business records, section 206 roving wiretap authority and the lone wolf provision. Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful. The lone wolf and roving wiretap provisions, however, are not, I repeat, not the subject of controversy with the House bill. So I would propose that we extend at least the lone wolf and the roving wiretap authorities while we continue to litigate the differing views on section 215. More specifically, I would propose that we extend those two provisions, lone wolf and roving wiretaps for up to two weeks."
  • Unanimous Consent –
    • The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of a bill to extend the expiring provisions related to lone wolf and roving wiretaps for two weeks.
    • The Senate pass the bill.
  • (Senator Paul objects)


Senator Paul: (6:16 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "One of the promises that was given when the PATRIOT Act was originally passed was that in exchange for allowing a less than constitutional standard … We found 99% of the time section 213 is used for domestic crime. I believe that no section of the patriot act should be passed unless our targets are terrorists, not Americans."


Senator McConnell: (6:17 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Last week I proposed giving the Intelligence Committee the time it would need to work toward the bipartisan legislative compromise Americans deserve. A compromise that would preserve important counterterrorism tools that are necessary to protect American lives. That effort was blocked. Just now, I proposed an even narrower extension that would have only extended some of the least controversial, least controversial, but still critical tools to ensure they do not lapse as senators work towards a more comprehensive legislative outcome. But even that very narrow offer was blocked. I think it should be worrying for our country because the nature of the threat we face is very serious. It's aggressive, it's sophisticated, it's geographically disperse, and it's not - not - going away … And so it essentially leaves us with two options. Option one: allow the program to expire altogether without attempting to replace it. That would mean disarming completely and arbitrarily based on a campaign of disinformation in the face of growing, aggressive, and sophisticated threats. Growing, aggressive, and sophisticated threats. That's a totally unacceptable outcome. Completely and totally unacceptable outcome. So we won't be doing that. And so we're left with option two. The House-passed bill. It's certainly not ideal. But along with votes on some modest amendments that attempt to ensure the program can actually work as promised, it's now the only realistic way forward."

Vote Results (Cloture on the MTP)

MTP to USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048)

May 31 2015 07:08 PM

Agreed to, 77-17:

Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2048, the USA Freedom Act, upon reconsideration.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Paul, Wyden, Heinrich

MTP to USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048)

May 31 2015 08:14 PM

Senator Paul: (7:05 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I think the bill may be replacing one form of bulk collection with another, but the government after this bill passes will no longer collect your phone records. My concern is that the phone companies still may do the same thing. Currently, my understanding is the N.S.A. is at the phone company sucking up the phone records and sending them to Utah. My concern is under the new program, that the records will still be sucked up into N.S.A. computers but the computers will be at the phone company, not in Utah. So the question is, will it be a distinction without a difference? The question also will be, will this be individualized?"


Senator Wyden: (7:43 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "With respect to this question of the government, you know, listening, I want it particularly understood that when the government has this kind of information, I believe that represents a threat to our liberty. And the reason why I think so is, hardly a week goes by, when databases aren't violated. We see that reported regularly in the press, number one. Number two, we've known about unfortunate times in our history -- J. Edgar Hoover comes to mind -- when this kind of information could be used. And, third, I've been very concerned, given what our former colleague, Senator Udall, and I had to do with respect to bulk phone record collection of e-mail. We battled to end this - and of course this was e-mail that could be read by government agencies. We battled with various intelligence leaders saying that we felt this a violation of people's rights, and it wasn't effective."


Senator Heinrich: (7:56 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "That's what the U.S.A. Freedom Act is. It's a product of bipartisan compromise. That's why it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 338-88. And, let's be blunt, many of those who voted against it didn't do so because they support bulk collection. They did so because they want to see section 215 wither and die in its entirety. That's the political reality that we face today, and we need to accept it rather than demand a continuation of a program that the appeals court has determined is illegal."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Wrap Up

May 31 2015 09:48 PM

Tomorrow –

  • The Senate will convene at 12:00 PM.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business for one hour, with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each.
  • Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2048, the USA Freedom Act.
  • Note: Cloture has been filed on H.R. 2048 and the amendment tree has been filled.