On May 31, certain provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to be sunsetted. Since the NSA has been using those provisions to justify their bulk telephone surveillance of Americans, that would effectively stop the program.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) is pushing for an extension through at least 2020 to keep the surveillance program going. He’s got the support of Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R – NC).
It may not be as simple as all that, however, with a number of Senate Republicans, including Ted Cruz (R – TX) and Rand Paul (R – KY) both seeking to end the program outright, and others like Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R – IA) riding the fence.
The unpopularity of mass surveillance is going to make pushing through the rubber stamp version difficult, if not outright impossible, and with the early campaigning for the presidential primaries beginning, would-be candidates are being extra skeptical about signing on for the extension.