WASHINGTON -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned the Senate on Monday against pushing through a renewal of surveillance powers for the National Security Agency without reforms approved last week by the House.
The House overwhelmingly passed legislation to tone down surveillance the NSA can conduct under the Patriot Act by ending bulk collections of ordinary Americans’ phone data.
The House vote sets up a fight with the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to bring forward a two-month extension of the current law, set to expire June 1.
McCarthy on Monday advised against that, saying the House vote sends a strong message supporting reforms.
“The Senate should look at that,” McCarthy said.
“When you get 338 (House votes), I think we are meeting somebody in the middle,” McCarthy told reporters Monday, when asked if House GOP leaders and McConnell could find common ground. “When you can get Republicans and Democrats beyond veto-proof, when you can get [Republican Reps. Jim] Sensenbrenner, and Devin Nunes (Calif.), and [Bob] Goodlatte (Va.) and [John] Conyers (D-Mich.) and everybody, I think that’s a great bill for the Senate to take.”
McCarthy wouldn’t say if the House would vote on a two-month extension to match McConnell's proposal.
“I don’t know what their votes are for in the Senate," McCarthy said. "I hear conflicting on all sides. So I don’t know where there is consensus over there, but there is consensus here that I think takes in all those concerns that I’m hearing over on the Senate side."
McCarthy added that he hopes the Senate will take action on the House bill after trade. That, however, appears unlikely as McConnell pushs forward with the two-month extension.
Winning approval for the extension won’t be an easy task for McConnell. Senate Democrats and a number of Republicans have vowed to filibuster a renewal without reforms.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told reporters Monday that he would help filibuster the bill McConnell plans to bring to the floor this week if no amendments are allowed.
“We’ve had a year. Actually we’ve had three years, we’ve known this date was coming for three years," Paul said. "We ought to have full and open debate with an amendment process. I will filibuster it unless there’s a debate process.”