U.S. President Barack Obama calls on the Senate to pass the Freedom Act, which would renew anti-terrorism surveillance powers but which could lapse at midnight on Sunday if the legislation is not passed. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday (May 30) reiterated his warning from the day before that surveillance powers used to prevent attacks on Americans could lapse at midnight on Sunday unless "a handful of senators" stop standing in the way of reform legislation. "It already passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support," Obama said about the USA Freedom Act during his weekly address to the American people. "A majority of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, have voted to move it forward. So what's the problem? A small group of Senators is standing in the way," Obama said. The Freedom Act passed by the House of Representatives would renew certain powers and reform the bulk collection of telephone data. It would end the bulk collection of telephone records and replace it with a more targeted system for retrieving the information. "FBI Director James Comey says they are essential and that losing them would severely impact terrorism investigations," Obama said during his address. In the Senate, the measure is supported by Democrats, but opposed by Republican security hawks, who want to extend the Patriot Act provisions, and libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Paul and other privacy advocates have blocked Senate efforts to pass any extension. On Friday (May 29), Obama said he had told Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators that he expects them to act swiftly on the bill. McConnell has called the Senate back to Washington for a rare Sunday session to deal with the expiration of three provisions of the Patriot Act, including Section 215, used to justify the National Security Agency's collection of billions of Americans' telephone call records.