Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall released the following statement after opposing the Senate Majority Leader’s strategy of limiting amendments to the USA Freedom Act to only those that would weaken the bill and further jeopardize Americans’ privacy rights.
“Although it is not as strong as I would like, I support the USA Freedom Act because it would permanently sunset the government’s illegal dragnet phone records collection and implement other important reforms. But this morning, I opposed cutting off debate because I could not support the Republican Leader’s strategy of limiting amendments to those that would weaken the bill. I was among the senators in both parties who offered amendments to ensure the bill adequately protects Americans’ constitutional rights. And not only do I oppose weakening the bill, I believe the Majority Leader’s strategy goes against a promise he made at the beginning of the year to allow an open debate and amendment process on legislation important to the American people.
“I believe we can keep our nation secure without violating our Constitution, and I will work over the next several hours to defeat the Majority Leader’s amendments. These weakening amendments will only need a majority vote to pass after this cloture vote. If they pass, I will vote against the final bill and urge the House to stand firm against further erosion of this watered-down legislation.”
Udall’s amendment would have expanded the role of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent government watchdog agency, and given the Board greater authorities to carry out its function of balancing the government’s national security and counterterrorism activities with the need to protect the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans.