Senate Battle on NSA Grows as Cotton Blocks Weak Reform

Arkansas Senator Demands 'Clean' Renewal of Surveillance

June 1 is the deadline for renewing the Patriot Act’s Section 215, which the administration has been illegally using as a pretext for NSA surveillance. There was already a battle looming in the Senate over this, and that battle has a growing number of fronts.

There was already the watered down USA Freedom Act, a nominal reform bill that actually leaves the surveillance state overwhelmingly in place, and planned filibuster against it.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R – AR) is now throwing his two cents in, and even a watered-down reform bill is too much for him. Rather, he’s demanding a 100% clean renewal of the surveillance program.

Cotton has some support, including from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY), but this faction split among those trying to renew surveillance either under the guise of reform or in plain site potentially puts the whole scheme at risk.

This is the second time in recent weeks Sen. Cotton has imperiled a bill he supported by trying to double down and get even more out of it. Recently, he tried to pad the Iran veto bill with myriad anti-Iran amendments which risked destroying the veto-proof majority the Senate had, and was only stopped at the last minute by the leadership.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of