Senate defeats motion to proceed to NSA surveillance overhaul bill (S. 2685) Nov. 18 (BNA) -- Senate Republicans blocked legislation to rein in U.S. government surveillance activities, citing national security concerns.
A cloture motion defeated late Nov. 18 would have cleared the way for Senate consideration of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 (S. 2685), a bill limiting the government's collection of business records, among other provisions.
The motion was rejected 58-42, with 41 Republicans voting “no.” At least 60 “yes” votes were needed.
The Senate was under pressure from privacy advocates and a coalition of technology industry giants, including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., to move forward on this issue. American technology businesses are standing to lose billions unless something is done to genuinely reform the system and to improve international public perception. (The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has estimated the cloud computing industry could suffer $22 - 34 billion in loses over the next three years)
‘Worst Possible Time,' says McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced his opposition to the bill earlier in the day, saying that the measure would weaken the nation's ability to combat terrorism at a critical time. “This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs,” McConnell said, citing the rise of the terrorist group known as Islamic State.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) crossed party lines, joining Democrats to support the cloture motion. Democrat Bill Nelson (Fla.) voted against the motion.