Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul begins a marathon speech to block a vote on any legislation that would extend U.S. spy agencies' collection of Americans' telephone data. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul began giving a speech on Wednesday (May 20) to block a vote on any legislation that would extend U.S. spy agencies' collection of Americans' telephone data. Under Senate rules, Paul, a 2016 presidential hopeful, can stay on the Senate floor and speak without interruption until midnight, when the next legislative day begins. Although both chambers are controlled by Republicans, leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate have been unable to agree on how to prevent the expiration of provisions of the USA Patriot Act that provide the legal basis for the collection of billions of telephone call records and other business information. The House of Representatives already passed legislation, the USA Freedom Act, that would limit agencies' ability to collect Americans' electronic data and business records. That measure would end bulk data collection but replaces it with a system of targeted information retrieval. The program has been a deep concern for privacy advocates since it was exposed two years ago by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is now a fugitive in Russia. There is strong support among Republicans and Democrats for extensive reform of the program, but few want it to expire. U.S. intelligence officials insist it is necessary to protect Americans. Democratic President Barack Obama has said he would sign the legislation if it is passed in the Senate. Rand Paul is leading the opposition to an extension of the measure, saying he would block even a two- or three-day extension.