President Obama called on the Senate Tuesday to extend key Patriot Act provisions before they expire five days from now, including the government’s ability to search Americans’ phone records.
“This needs to get done,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s necessary to keep the American people safe and secure.”
But with the May 31 deadline fast approaching, there was scant evidence Tuesday of a search for a deal on Capitol Hill. The House and Senate stood in recess for the week, and a House GOP leadership aide said there were no talks happening between the two chambers. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity, because the aide was not authorized to discuss the issue on the record.
The Senate adjourned for its legal holiday break early Saturday after a chaotic late-night session during which senators failed to pass a White House-backed House bill reforming the phone collection program. Attempts by GOP leaders to extend the current law also repeatedly fell short, amid objections from presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and others.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling the Senate back into session on Sunday, May 31, just hours before the midnight deadline, but it’s not clear lawmakers will have any new solution.