Rand Paul has revealed that he intends to force the expiration of the PATRIOT Act today by stopping Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from expediting debate on a new surveillance bill.
In a statement to Politico yesterday, the Republican presidential hopeful said that he would not support any extension of the existing law nor would he support the USA Freedom Act passed by the House in early May..
“I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program,” Rand Paul told Politico in a prepared statement. The Kentucky Senator has been well known for his defence of civil liberties and strong opposition to the PATRIOT Act.
The rules of the Senate will allow Rand Paul to filibuster the extension of the Act, meaning that it will expire.
The USA Freedom Act aims to curb the NSA’s bulk data collection program and has overwhelming support in the House. Paul asserts that the bill is merely an extension of the PATRIOT Act and intends to block it. Should he be successful, it is likely that he would be able to delay passage of the bill until at least Thursday, which is three days after the PATRIOT Act expires.
Rand Paul argues that the choice between liberty and safety is a false one and he has previously sued the NSA and proposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.
Senator Paul reiterated this stance in his statement, where he said:“I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies.
“But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not.”
“There has to be another way. We must find it together.”
“I am ready and willing to start the debate on how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty.”
“Sometimes when the problem is big enough, you just have to start over. The tax code and our regulatory burdens are two good examples.”
“Fighting against unconditional, illegal powers that take away our rights, taken by previous Congresses and administrations is just as important.”
“I do not do this to obstruct. I do it to build something better, more effective, more lasting, and more cognizant of who we are as Americans.”
Paul’s opposition to the PATRIOT Act has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans, many of whom believe that its continued operation is essential to the national security of the United States.
Senator Paul’s allies, such as Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Ron Wynden (D-OR), are ready to vote for the USA Freedom Act but Republican Representatives Justin Amash and Thomas Massie have vowed to delay any bill sent back to the House.
Paul’s eye remains, however, on his candidacy for the White House and he reiterated his support for a strong national security framework.