Surveillance Bill Debate Continues

The Senate is back at it this morning, and pretty soon, the House is expected to hold a vote on a 30-day extension to the Protect America Act.

Things are too fluid right now to tell what will happen next, but we’ll keep you updated.

A transcript of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) brief remarks to open debate is below.

Yesterday, the Senate decided against cutting off debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, so that we can continue debating it today.

We need to consider amendments to the bill. That was the message of last night’s vote. Democrats have about a dozen relevant amendments we would like to offer.

The managers of the bill are continuing their discussions, and I will work with the Minority Leader throughout the day to reach an agreement for moving forward.

In the meantime, we should extend current law for a short time while we work on the longer-term bill. The House will consider a bill today to extend the Protect America Act for several weeks.

If the House passes an extension, the Senate will consider it prior to the law’s expiration date.

But it is important to remember that even if we do not extend current law, existing surveillance orders will remain in effect for an additional year.

That said – we should work together to responsibly extend the current law, so that there is no interruption whatsoever in the nation’s intelligence gathering capacity.

Our ultimate goal is to provide the intelligence community with all the legal tools it needs, while protecting the privacy of law abiding Americans. We will continue to work toward that goal, and we continue to reach out to our friends across the aisle in order to do so.

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