Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) lambasted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Sunday for delaying the Senate’s vote to extend some provisions of the Patriot Act, allowing the National Security Agency’s power to collect American’s phone records in bulk to lapse.
“I know what this is about — I think it’s very clear – this is, to some degree, a fundraising exercise,” McCain said, according to Politico. “He obviously has a higher priority for his fundraising and political ambitions than for the security of the nation.”
McCain and his colleague Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) also criticized Paul for skipping a Republican caucus meeting on the Patriot Act.
“Anything that goes against anything he believes, he never comes,” Coats told Politico. “It’s always helpful if you’re in there working to have your position understood, and we all learn a lot and we all try to come to a much better understanding of what we’re trying to do.”
Paul, who filibustered the bill last week, spoke again about his opposition to the NSA’s collection of phone records on Sunday night.
“People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States, so they can blame it on me,” he said on the Senate floor, according to The Hill.
Paul and McCain also sparred as Paul attempted to deliver a speech on the Senate floor. McCain objected twice when Paul attempted to speak, accusing the Kentucky senator of not knowing the rules.
“If the Senator from Kentucky doesn’t know the rules of the Senate yet, I’d be glad to instruct him if he’d seek out my counsel,” McCain later told reporters, according to Roll Call.
Paul was eventually permitted to speak.
“I’m not going to take it anymore,” he said about the NSA program, according to The Hill. “I don’t think the American people are going to take it anymore.”
Though the Senate allowed some of the NSA’s authorities to lapse on Sunday night, they advanced the USA Freedom Act passed by the House, which will likely see final approval in the Senate this week. The House bill extends portions of the Patriot Act and remakes the NSA’s bulk data collection program.