Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has made government surveillance reform a rallying cry for his presidential bid, and he now says that he intends to force the Patriot Act to expire by blocking debate on the subject Sunday night in the Senate.
The Patriot Act, which has been used to authorize such things as the bulk collection of phone records, is set to expire at midnight Sunday. The Senate adjourned a week ago after fierce debate on the subject without passing any legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) pushed hard for passage of his own bill to reauthorize the surveillance powers in the Patriot Act.
Most now believe that McConnell’s only option is to try for passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would limit surveillance powers, and that the House of Representatives passed by a wide margin earlier this month.
Paul says he will use his powers in the Senate to block debate on that bill Sunday night. And technically, under Senate rules, Paul can indeed force the blockage of the Freedom Act.
If he’s successful, the federal government will have no official surveillance rules codified in law Monday morning.