Cornyn, Leahy, Wyden, Blumenthal, Burr, Thune, Coats, Isakson, Recess

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Senator Cornyn: (11:07 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I know no member of the Senate and no member of the House, no American wants to look back on our hasty treatment of this underlying legislation and say if we were just a little more careful, if we just had taken a little bit more time, if we had just been a little more thoughtful, a little more deliberative and talked about the facts as they are and not some misrepresentation of the facts, we could have actually prevented a terrorist attack on our home soil. Unfortunately, by increasing the risk to the American people, as I believe this underlying legislation will do, we may not find out about that until it's too late. I hope and pray that is not the case. But why should we take the risk to the homeland, why should we risk anyone being injured or potentially killed as a result of a home-grown terrorist attack on our own soil because we have simply blinded ourselves in a significant way to the risk?"

 

Senator Leahy: (11:25 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I think the N.S.A. director probably is as knowledgeable about this subject as anybody in this chamber and he says we can go forward with it. I think all these amendments that are talked about would simply delay passing an excellent piece of legislation. One that's been worked on by Republicans and Democrats for months and months, some would say years. Let's go with it. You know, we hear about stopping terrorism attacks. We all want to do that. But I remember some of the statements made by a former N.S.A. director, well, to stop 52 or 54 terrorist attacks, I don't remember the exact number, but having to actually talk about that came out that it was important after the fact in one case."

 

Senator Wyden: (11:32 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Chairman Burr and I, the two of us feel so strongly about making sure secret operations are kept secret, because otherwise Americans are going to die. We can't have secret operations splayed all over in the public square. But the law always ought to be public. As Senator Leahy has pointed out for some time - and I warned about it here on the floor, what we would see is if you lived in Connecticut or Vermont, you read the PATRIOT Act, it talked about collecting information relevant to an investigation. Nobody thought that meant millions and millions of records on law-abiding people. That decision was made in secret."

 

Senator Blumenthal: (11:39 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "It's the kind of court that our founders would have found an anathema to their vision of democracy and freedom. We may need such a court now to authorize surveillance activities that must be kept secret, but we need to strike a balance that protects very precious constitutional rights and liberties. After all, what does our surveillance and intelligence system protect, if not these fundamental values and rights of privacy and liberties that have lasted and served us well because we respect them? And more than the physical structures that we seek to protect through this system, it's those values and rights that are fundamentally paramount in importance. So this FISA court reform goes to the core of the changes, constructive changes that we seek to make, and I hope that my colleagues will defeat amendment 1451, along with all the other amendments."

 

Senator Burr: (11:53 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "We're on the floor today talking about taking some of the tools away that have been effective at helping us. Wrong debate to have, but we're here. I would only ask my colleagues show some reason, extend by six months the transition period, make sure that it doesn't take longer to search these databases, make sure that we're ready for the telephone companies to carry out the searches because there's one certainty that I think I will find agreement from all my colleagues here. The terrorists aren't going away. America is still their target. No matter what we say on this floor, we're still in the crosshairs of their terrorist acts. Only through providing an intelligence community and a law enforcement community the tools to carry out their job can they actually fulfill their obligation of making sure that America is safe well into the future."

 

Senator Thune: (12:12 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I hope that everybody listens carefully because we are on the cusp of doing something that in my view does in fact weaken the very tools that have been used, the capabilities that have been used to prevent those terrorist attacks. And the ironic thing about it is if you frame that up, you look at the threats that are out there, the dangerous times in which we live and the success of these programs and how effective they have been in the past at preventing a terrorist attack, and what's being talked about are potential abuses, hypothetical examples of how these programs could be abused, but they haven't. The fact of the matter is they haven't. We have a long period of time now in which to examine the effectiveness of these tools relative to the arguments that are being made about their abuse, and they just don't exist."
  • Spoke on the economy.
    • "The U.S. Census Bureau reports more businesses are closing each year than are being opened. Think about that. More businesses are closing, there are more business deaths than business births in this country today. Millions of Americans are unemployed, millions more forced to work part-time because they can't full-time work. 40% of unemployed Americans have become so disillusioned at the lack of opportunity they've given up entirely looking for work. 40% … Senate Republicans have laid out a number of policies to help grow the economy and open up opportunities for low and middle-income Americans. We proposed energy policies that will expand domestic energy development and drive down energy prices. We're advancing trade policies that will help create more opportunities for American workers here at home by increasing the market for U.S. goods and services abroad. We've proposed tax reform that will simplify our outdated tax code and make our businesses more competitive which will hope he open up new jobs and opportunities for American workers."

 

Senator Coats: (12:24 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "The only allegation that holds true is that it has the potential to accomplish a breach of someone's privacy. Over the years, it's never been documented of - no abuse has been raised. No one's privacy has been breached. To shut down a program with that kind of record on the basis that something could happen, that government could abuse this, I know it resonates with a number of people in the United States. And I really don't blame them. This current administration, in particular, policies have created great distrust among the American people as to their leadership, as to their operation, as to their policies, and when we look at what's taking place with the I.R.S., definitely breaching people's privacy for political purposes, when we look at Benghazi, the cover-up that's taken place on Benghazi, with an administration refusing to stand up and take responsibility for not responding adequately to that understand a changing the narrative and rewriting the intelligence, when we look at fast and furious and what the agency responsible there, or the kind of policies that they have taken place, and on and on it goes - so I fully understand the, not just frustration but the anger that the American people have and the distrust that they have."

 

Senator Isakson: (12:53 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "(Speaking on Senator Coats) You have for the last six days tried to illuminate misconceptions. You provided great information to the Senate and to the people of the United States of America, and I think it's ironic - and I don't believe the senator from Indiana knows this - but today in the Finance Committee we had a hearing before the Mr. Koskinen who tried to explain that Social Security numbers were stolen from the I.R.S. Which included rents, payments, debts, obligations, the entire obligation to 104,000 American citizens. Nobody is talking about giving the I.R.S. to the phone companies. Nobody is talking about the amount of information the I.R.S. has and whether the government uses it or abuses it. And here we are worried about 41 individuals who have the ability to know two telephone numbers, the origination of the call and duration of that call, without its association to a name unless a judge says it's okay."

 

The Senate stands in recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons.