FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Arizona Senators Split On USA Freedom Act Today, Restoring Provisions of PATRIOT Act

Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake (both R) split their votes on  the USA Freedom Act this afternoon, which restores key provisions of the PATRIOT Act.  The measure now goes to President Obama's desk; he has indicated he will sign it.

The Senate voted 67-32 to pass the USA Freedom Act, after the House passed it 338-88 on May 13. The bill restores provisions which lapsed this past weekend, regarding roving wiretaps, and reforms the bulk collection of phone data.

McCain had been a vocal proponent of amending the House-passed version; he voted "nay" today.  Flake voted "aye," joining 22 other Republicans and all but one Democrat in passing the House version. (Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) was the only Democrat to oppose it.)

Today's vote continued the showdown between the libertarian-leaning wing of the Republican party - led by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) - and the party leadership and more establishment portion of the party. McCain was a vocal leader of the latter.  (Lee ended up voting "aye", Paul voted "nay".)

Here is video from Sunday night, when Sens. McCain and Paul got into a rules battle:


The leadership tried to gather support for amending the House-passed version, with the risk that the House would not support those amendments and the lapsed provisions would hamper U.S. intelligence efforts.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) then noted that the defeat of the proposed tweaks was a "resounding victory for (NSA leaker) Edward Snowden. It is also a resounding victory for those currently plotting attacks against the homeland.”

The issue scrambled the usual party lines in both the Senate and the House.  In the latter, three of the five Arizona Republicans voted "nay", and Arizona Democrats split 3-1 "aye".

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