The USA Freedom Act, originally the stronger of the two Senate NSA reform bills but watered-down to the point of irrelevance, has failed a procedural vote today, and will no longer be considered until January at the earliest.
The motion to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate needed 60 votes to pass, but got only 58, with 42 opponents. The opposition came from both sides, with surveillance critics saying the bill was too weak to bother with, and surveillance advocates who didn’t want any reform bill, even a token one.
This was reflected in both Kentucky Senators, Rand Paul (R – KY) and Mitch McConnell (R – KY) voting against bringing the bill to the floor for exactly opposite reasons.
The defeat means the bill is effectively dead until the new Senate takes office, and with a much more hawkish bend, it will likely be hard for any reforms to get past them. At the same time, they likely won’t be as supportive of the pretense of reform as the backers of this bill were.
This may be good news in the long run, as it will at least keep the question of mass NSA surveillance of American citizens in the public eye, and without any ability for the administration to claim a bill has nominally “resolved” the matter.