If Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) keeps holding up the PATRIOT Act by insisting on voting on his amendments, it could have “dire consequences” for our nation’s national security, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) charged on the floor of the Senate Wednesday.“When the clock strikes midnight tomorrow, we will be giving terrorists the opportunity to
plot against our country undetected,” Reid said. “We have to stop him.”
Three provisions of the post-Sept. 11 law are set to expire this week unless Congress re-authorizes them. A small number of senators on both sides of the aisle had sought votes on amendments to add additional oversight provisions to the law and have certain provisions expire a few years down the road.
Paul took to the floor of the Senate minutes after Reid spoke to respond to the “scurrilous” accusations made against him.
“I’ve been accused of wanting terrorists to have weapons to attack America,” Paul said. “To be attacked of such a belief when I’m here to discuss and debate the constitutionality of the PATRIOT Act is offensive. I find it personally insulting. And I think it demeans the body.”
There are only three provisions of the PATRIOT Act that would sunset this week without congressional authorization — the “lone wolf” provision which allows for intelligence investigations of foreigners not connected to terrorist groups; Section 215 which lets the government easily obtain “any tangible thing” deemed relevant to terrorism investigations; and roving wiretaps, which allow the feds to monitor any communications believed to be being used by a terrorism investigation target. Existing investigations using those methods would be grandfathered in.
Here’s video of Reid speaking on the floor of the Senate:
And here’s Paul’s response:
Meanwhile in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told members to expect to be in session on Friday to vote after the Senate holds a cloture vote on Thursday — triggering a 30-hour post cloture debate period.