Key parts of the PATRIOT Act expired at midnight when a bitterly divided Senate adjourned after failing to reach agreement during a rare Sunday session to extend the anti-terror law, Politico reports. The Senate did vote overwhelmingly to advance the USA Freedom Act, a House-passed surveillance reform bill that GOP leaders opposed but were forced to accept given the lack of time and other alternatives. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) refused to allow that measure to be adopted in time to replace the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions. The USA Freedom Act easily cleared a filibuster in a 77-17 vote that appeared to set the stage for eventual passage.
It was not the outcome envisioned by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He had hoped to pass a temporary extension of current law to avoid a midnight shutdown of three PATRIOT Act programs, including the controversial “bulk data” phone record collection. Paul wouldn't relent, so those initiatives have temporarily lapsed, a troubling development for Senate Republicans in just their fifth month in the majority. “All of us are extremely concerned about the program going dark at a time when the terrorist threat is very high,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). The Senate will vote next to end debate on the House bill on Tuesday, as well as amendments intended to make it more palatable to Senate hawks.