WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner urged the Senate Sunday to pass the House-passed “USA Freedom Act,” and called any effort to allow the Patriot Act to expire a failure to take “the terrorist threat seriously.”
Boehner’s statement came just after the Senate opened for business Sunday afternoon in a rare weekend session dedicated to the passage of the USA Freedom Act, which would renew provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire Sunday night.
“Al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorists around the globe continue to plot attacks on America and our allies,” Boehner said. “Anyone who is satisfied with letting this critical intelligence capability go dark isn’t taking the terrorist threat seriously. I’d urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, and do so expeditiously.”
That “anyone” is Sen. Rand Paul, who vowed going into the weekend that he would “force the expiration” of the Patriot Act.
“I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans,” Paul said in a statement Friday. “The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end. Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice and we are better than that as a nation and as a people.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid quickly condemned the fight Sunday afternoon, calling it “yet another manufactured crisis,” and attacked his counterpart — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who, he says, “simply didn’t have a plan” to avert the fight.