Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said this week that he intends to mount a fight against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the post-Sept. 11 law that gives the National Security Agency much of its authority to conduct surveillance programs.
"I'm going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward. We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us," Paul told the New Hampshire Union Leader on Monday.
The Patriot Act expires June 1, but Congress must effectively renew the law by May 22nd because of a scheduled weeklong break. Paul, a civil libertarian who hopes to capture the 2016 Republican nomination for president, has consistently spoken against reauthorizing the law, going so far as to oppose a 2014 bill that would have ended controversial NSA phone record collection because it left the government's broad authority to conduct surveillance intact.
It's unclear whether Paul plans to vote to block reauthorizing the surveillance law, or whether he intends to mount a traditional "talking" filibuster that would eat up valuable time on the Senate floor. A request with the senator's spokesperson for more details was not immediately returned.
The Kentucky Republican isn't the only member of the Senate with objections to the Patriot Act. On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is one of the most persistent critics of U.S. surveillance programs, has said that he, too, plans to wage war over some of the law's most controversial provisions. In an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, Wyden threatened to mount a filibuster if Congress reauthorizes Section 215 of the act, upon which the government has built its rationale for the bulk data collection revealed in 2013 by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Wyden and Paul have teamed up on national security issues in the past. In 2013, the senator from Oregon lent his voice to Paul's filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director.
A request for comment with a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is a strong supporter of the Patriot Act, was not immediately returned on Monday.
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