The Senate is coming into session at 4 p.m. on Sunday as Patriot Act provisions near their midnight sunset — and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vowed today to hold the line.
“I do not do this to obstruct. I do it to build something better, more effective, more lasting, and more cognizant of who we are as Americans,” he said today in a statement released by his presidential campaign.
Government officials have warned that even though the metadata collection programs would expire at midnight, the National Security Agency would have to start bringing down the servers at 8 p.m.
Votes are expected at 6 p.m.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) will be on CNN Sunday morning advocating for Senate passage of the USA Freedom Act, the Patriot Act alternative that has been accepted by the White House and passed the House 338-88 earlier this month.
The bill failed by three votes to move forward on cloture a week ago.
Paul or any of his pro-privacy allies, such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), could sink the vote if their amendments are not given due consideration.
“I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans. The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end. Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice and we are better than that as a nation and as a people,” Paul said today.
“That’s why two years ago, I sued the NSA. It’s why I proposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act. It’s why I have been seeking for months to have a full, open and honest debate on this issue– a debate that never came.”
Paul cast blame on the Senate for adjourning for the Memorial Day recess after he blocked the bill.
“I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies. But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not. There has to be another way. We must find it together,” the senator continued.
“So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program. I am ready and willing to start the debate on how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty.”
Sometimes, Paul said, “when the problem is big enough, you just have to start over.”
“The tax code and our regulatory burdens are two good examples,” he said. “Fighting against unconditional, illegal powers that take away our rights, taken by previous Congresses and administrations is just as important.”
The first time the Senate met on a Sunday was on the issue of slavery in 1861; the last Sunday session was about the budget and defense reauthorization in 2013.