Burr says the new surveillance bill is a marker for negotiations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
As the Senate worked its way out of two legislative knots Wednesday, passing a human-trafficking bill, 99-0, and setting up a Thursday vote on the long-delayed nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the path to reauthorizing surveillance activities would be a lot easier if the White House engaged Congress sooner rather than later.
“The White House usually keeps everything close to the vest until all of a sudden, you produce a piece of legislation and then they’re open to share with you their problems with it,” Sen. Richard M. Burr said. “I wish they’d adopt another strategy.”
The North Carolina Republican joined Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in introducing a bill late Tuesday that just might get an administration reaction. It would effectively extend the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, such as those related to bulk collection of phone and other records under the law’s Section 215, through a prospective lame-duck session at the end of the next president’s first term. Burr said that was a marker for negotiating. The authorization is set to lapse at the beginning of June.