[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 62 (Tuesday, April 28, 2015)]
[Pages S2476-S2480]


      By Mr. LEE (for himself, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Heller, Mr. Durbin, Mr. 
        Cruz, Mr. Franken, Ms. Murkowski, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Daines, 
        and Mr. Schumer):
  S. 1123. A bill to reform the authorities of the Federal Government 
to require the production of certain business records, conduct 
electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, 
and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, 
counterterrorism, and criminal purposes, and for other purposes; to the 
Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, almost 2 years ago, Vermonters and the 
American people learned for the first time the shocking details of the 
National Security Agency's dragnet collection program. Relying on a 
deeply flawed interpretation of section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the 
NSA has been indiscriminately sweeping up Americans' private telephone 
records for years.
  It is long past time to end this bulk collection program. Americans 
have made clear that they will not tolerate such intrusion into their 
private lives. The President has called for an end to bulk collection 
under section 215. The Director of National Intelligence and the 
Attorney General supported legislation last year that would have shut 
this program down. National security experts have testified that the 
program is not necessary, and the American technology industry has 
called for meaningful reform of this program because it has lost 
billions to competitors in the international marketplace due to a 
decline in the public's trust.
  Yet in the face of this overwhelming consensus, Congress has failed 
to act. Last year, when we had an opportunity to pass my bipartisan 
legislation to end this program and reform other surveillance 
authorities, some Members of this body chose to play political games 
rather than engage in constructive debate.
  The time for posturing and theatrics is over. It is time for Congress 
to answer to the American people.
  Today, I--along with Senator Mike Lee--introduce the USA FREEDOM Act 
of 2015. This bipartisan bill is also being introduced in the House 
today by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, House Judiciary Committee 
chairman Bob Goodlatte, ranking member John Conyers, and a large 
bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members.
  If enacted, our bill will be the most significant reform to 
government surveillance authorities since the USA PATRIOT Act was 
passed nearly 14 years ago. Most importantly, our bill will 
definitively end the NSA's bulk collection program under section 215. 
It also guarantees unprecedented transparency about government 
surveillance programs, allows the FISA Court to appoint an amicus to 
assist it in significant cases, and brings the national security letter 
statutes in line with the First Amendment.
  The bipartisan, bicameral bill we introduce today is the product of 
intense and careful negotiations. It enacts strong, meaningful reforms 
while ensuring that the intelligence community has the tools it needs 
to keep this country safe.
  Some will say that this bill does not go far enough. I agree. But in 
order to secure broader support for reform legislation that can pass 
both the House and Senate and be signed into law, changes had to be 
made to the bill that I introduced last year. This new bill

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does not contain all the reforms that I want. It contains some 
provisions I believe are unnecessary but that were added to secure 
support from the House Intelligence Committee. But we should pass it 
and continue fighting for more reform.
  I have been in the Senate for more than 40 years--and I have learned 
that when there is a chance to make real progress, we have to seize it. 
This is not my first fight and certainly will not be my last. I have a 
responsibility to Vermonters and the American people to do everything I 
can to end the dragnet collection of their phone records under section 
215. And I know for a fact that the upcoming June 1 sunset of section 
215 is our best opportunity for real reform. We cannot squander it.
  Last year, a broad and bipartisan coalition worked together to craft 
reasonable and responsible legislation. Critics resorted to scare 
tactics. They would not even agree to debate the bill. I hope that we 
do not see a repeat of that ill-fated strategy again this year. The 
American people have had enough of delay and brinksmanship. Congress 
now has an opportunity to show leadership and govern responsibly.
  The intelligence community is deeply concerned about the possibility 
of a legislative standoff that could result in the expiration of 
section 215 altogether. The USA FREEDOM Act is a path forward that has 
the support of the administration, privacy groups, the technology 
industry--and most importantly, the American people. I urge 
congressional leaders to take up and swiftly pass the USA FREEDOM Act 
of 2015--because I will not vote for reauthorization of section 215 
without meaningful reform.