Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Posts in "Intelligence"

January 4, 2016

Rubio: ISIS Would’ve Lobbied for USA Freedom Act

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 3: Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rubio, a presidential candidate, slammed the USA Freedom Act on Monday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-Intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president.”

That’s what Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Monday in a foreign policy speech of the surveillance overhaul that he’s long opposed, drawing a contrast with his Republican presidential rivals from the Senate. But the rhetoric against the USA Freedom Act has not led to concern by supporters of his White House bid who also backed — or even advocated for — to have concerns about Rubio or his message.

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December 16, 2015

Cruz Remarks Draw Intel Panel Attention

Burr has a new proposal to extend the NSA's bulk surveillance powers by two years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr said the committee was reviewing Cruz’s comments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr said his staff was reviewing comments about the Patriot Act’s metadata program made by Sen. Ted Cruz during Tuesday’s GOP presidential debate.

Burr said that any time there are specific references to numbers related to intelligence programs it sets off concerns among those who handle classified information, but a review is necessary to determine if there was an open source for the data.

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December 15, 2015

Did Ted Cruz Disclose Classified Information?

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 8: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, holds a news conference with Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, (not pictured) in the U.S. Capitol to discuss Syrian refugee legislation on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz and Rubio sparred over possibly classified information at the debate Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Did Sen. Ted Cruz disclose classified information on national television?

Those without access to the intelligence itself probably won’t know for sure, but that seemed to be the implication in the reaction from presidential campaign rival and fellow Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., during a portion of Tuesday’s CNN debate that focused on their differing views on the scope of National Security Agency surveillance programs. Full story

December 10, 2015

Cruz Strikes Back on Rubio’s Patriot Act Attacks

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 8: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, holds a news conference with Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, (not pictured) in the U.S. Capitol to discuss Syrian refugee legislation on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz is hitting back on criticism from his presidential rival Rubio. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Facing accusations from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida that he’s supported weakening surveillance powers, presidential rival and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas hit back against his rival on Thursday.

The two Republican presidential candidates have been at each other over their differing views on reauthorization of provisions of the Patriot Act. The provisions in question involve the bulk collection of telephone metadata by the National Security Agency. Rubio is in a contingent led by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that is blasting people who supported ending the bulk collection, claiming the practice is key to fighting terrorist threats.

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November 20, 2015

Domestic Surveillance Re-Emerges in Senate, on the Trail

rand paul

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A debate over domestic surveillance that appeared resolved months ago is getting new life in the Senate — and on the 2016 presidential trail.

Speaking to college students Thursday at George Washington University, presidential hopeful Rand Paul called “bullshit” on the idea there should be expanded screening of phone records in the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks in France. Full story

November 16, 2015

Rubio Criticizes Cruz Over Surveillance After Paris Attacks

marco rubio

Rubio speaks at the 2015 Wall Street Journal CEO Council at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday connected the threat from the Islamic State terror group to recent action by Congress that he said weakened the U.S. intelligence community’s surveillance powers — and one of his leading presidential opponent’s votes on it.

The Florida Republican said the enactment of the USA Freedom Act left America “unnecessarily vulnerable” to terrorist threats. That was the legislation that eliminated the federal bulk collection of telephone records, moving data to the telephone companies. Full story

October 19, 2015

Debt Limit, Highways Wait as Republicans Tackle Sanctuary Cities

Vitter, R-La., speaks during a news conference to call on Congress to pass the Lautenberg Act to "protect families from dangerous chemicals," outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Vitter is behind bills on sanctuary cities and toxic substances. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Senators return to Washington this week facing a crush of must-pass legislation, but before the chamber can get to the debt limit or highway funding, Republicans want to express outrage over “sanctuary cities.”

A Republican proposal to cut federal funding to cities that defy immigration laws is expected to be blocked by Democrats when the Senate gets back to work Tuesday. Full story

August 4, 2015

McConnell Says No Shutdowns as September Agenda Takes Shape (Video)

McConnell says there won't be any shutdowns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell says there won’t be any shutdowns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Democrats are warning a new shutdown showdown looms in September, even as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated there wouldn’t be any government shutdowns on his watch.

“Let me say it again: no more government shutdowns,” the Kentucky Republican said, when asked how he intended to adhere to his pledge made numerous times. “We have divided government. … At some point we’ll negotiate the way forward.”

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June 2, 2015

Senate Clears USA Freedom Act After Ending Rand Paul Filibuster (Updated)

McConnell belatedly succeeded in overcoming Paul's opposition to any Patriot Act extension. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell helped cut off Paul’s filibuster but voted against the USA Freedom Act after the Senate rejected his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:09 p.m. | The Senate passed an overhaul of Patriot Act surveillance provisions Tuesday after rejecting the pleas of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and putting an end to Rand Paul’s filibuster.

The Senate voted 67-32 to clear the USA Freedom Act — the bill resurrecting and revising the lapsed Patriot Act surveillance authorities — to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

The vote capped a multi-week drama that had brought the Senate to a standstill and pitted the two Kentucky Republicans against each other, the White House and the House and led to a short-term expiration of Patriot Act authorities the administration said were critical to the intelligence community.

The National Security Agency will have up to six more months to collect bulk phone metadata before that program must be converted to a system of expedited queries of telecom companies for individual records.

The Senate rejected a package of amendments proposed by Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., who has been a consistent skeptic of the House-passed bill along with Paul’s fellow Kentucky Republican, McConnell.

McConnell and Burr sought to extend the transition period to a full year, wanted to require a certification that the telecom companies would be able to deliver the information sought by the National Security Agency, and wanted to nix an amicus process for the secret FISA court.

The tweaks, however minor — as they’ve been billed by Senate Republicans leadership — had been considered poison pills by the House, and were all easily rejected by the Senate in a humbling defeat for the majority leader.

McConnell, meanwhile, just before the vote announced he would oppose the USA Freedom Act. He said it was unwise to take away a tool for fighting terrorists at a time of rising threats, and said the public agreed with him.

“Sixty-one percent say ‘I’m not concerned about my privacy, I’m concerned about my security,'” McConnell said.

He fumed that the bill amounted to a resounding victory for Edward Snowden and for terrorists plotting new attacks.

But House leaders and the White House had strongly urged the Senate to reject any amendments and simply clear the bill to the president’s desk.

Once signed, the NSA will be able to restart its bulk phone metadata collection, a process the administration has said could take up to a full day.

Earlier the Senate voted 83-14 vote to end Paul’s filibuster and limit debate.

Here’s the list of the 14 senators who voted to filibuster the USA Freedom Act:


Senate Odd Couple — Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul — Won’t Split Despite NSA Rift

McCarthy to Senate: Pass USA Freedom Act ‘as Quickly as Possible’

Angry John McCain Calls Rand Paul ‘the Worst’

Senate Advances Patriot Act Overhaul, but Too Late to Foil Rand Paul

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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May 31, 2015

Senate Advances Patriot Act Overhaul, but Too Late to Foil Rand Paul (Updated)

Rand Paul arrives at the U.S. Capitol to block any Patriot Act extension Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rand Paul arrives at the Capitol determined to block any Patriot Act extension Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:52 p.m. | The Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance the USA Freedom Act Sunday evening, but too late to prevent Sen. Rand Paul from being able to force a short-term expiration of Patriot Act surveillance authorities at midnight.

The vote came after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., threw in the towel on advancing any short-term extensions of the Patriot Act authorities under the continuing objections of Paul, the fellow Kentuckian he has endorsed for the presidency. Full story

USA Freedom Act Supporters Say They Have the Votes (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Daines predicted the USA Freedom Act will pass as early as Sunday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:49 p.m. | Senate advocates for an overhaul of National Security Agency surveillance programs sound confident they have the votes to advance the USA Freedom Act. It’s just a matter of time.

“I think we’ll get it passed on Sunday night,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., told CNN Saturday, making a bullish prediction on the timing. “Now, by the rules of the Senate, with objections and so forth … the Patriot Act may very well expire Sunday night, but we’ve got to start moving forward here. We could have done this a week ago. And this is the nature of Washington, D.C., is always managing by crisis.”

Full story

May 30, 2015

It’s Rand Paul vs. Almost Everybody on Patriot Act (Updated)

(Screenshot from Rand Paul's Facebook page)

There might be a lot of Republicans in Obama’s corner, but Paul isn’t one of them. (Screenshot from Rand Paul’s Facebook page)

Updated May 31 3:49 p.m. | Rand Paul’s presidential campaign wants to portray his fight to block any Patriot Act extension as a faceoff against President Barack Obama. But the Kentucky senator is waging an increasingly lonely battle.

Some of his usual tea party allies are abandoning him. House Republican leaders are not pleased with his antics. And then there’s Paul’s feud with the senior senator from Kentucky and the most prominent Republican to endorse his presidential campaign, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Full story

May 27, 2015

Rand Paul Blasts Critics in the ‘Eye Roll’ Caucus (Video)

Paul hit back at his critics in a missive to campaign supporters Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul hit back at his critics Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


In his latest fundraising message, Sen. Rand Paul is calling out an “eye roll” caucus of senators who are against his efforts to upend Patriot Act surveillance programs.

“If I’m going to slug it out Sunday with the spy state apologists, I’m going to need all the help and support I can get,” the Kentucky Republican wrote Wednesday. “Unfortunately, it seems the President, the senior senator from Arizona and other members of the ‘eye roll’ caucus who can’t stand any mention of the Bill of Rights are all operating out of the same playbook.”

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May 22, 2015

After Rand Paul’s Objections, Patriot Act Lurches Toward Expiration (Updated)

Rand Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn't get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn’t get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated May 23, 2 a.m. | The Senate failed to advance even a one-day extension of the Patriot Act surveillance authorities early Saturday, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leading bipartisan objections to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an extraordinary sequence.

The end result is that the Senate will reconvene for legislative business at 4 p.m. on May 31, staring down a midnight deadline to reauthorize the programs in question, including some far less contentious than the bulk data collection that’s gotten most of the attention. Full story

May 21, 2015

Administration Ramps Up NSA Pitch as Burr Makes New Offer

Burr has a new proposal to extend the NSA's bulk surveillance powers by two years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Burr has a new proposal to extend the NSA’s bulk surveillance powers by two years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Senate Intelligence chairman floated a new proposal, the Obama administration is warning senators against doing anything other than clearing the USA Freedom Act.

A senior administration official said late Thursday that even adopting a short-term extension of the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act could set up a “very uncertain future for these national security authorities.”

Full story

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