The Patriot Act’s Section 215—used by the NSA to justify its bulk data collection—expires on June 1st. But don’t worry: Senator Mitch McConnell is working hard to ensure the rule remains in place.
McConnell proposed a bill earlier in the week that would extend Section 215 until 2020. In fact, he’s already managed to start the process through which the bill would appear on the Senate calendar—using a special shortcut known as Rule 14 to bypass the usual committee process.
The bill is thought to simply extend the current Section 215 without any changes. The National Journal speculates that the bill is “an attempt to thwart efforts to rein in the National Security Agency’s expansive surveillance powers,” after it was suspected that other lawmakers would introduce a comprehensive surveillance-reform plan this week.
There’s a small chance that the bill is an insurance plan, of course, in case senators fail to agree on reform by June 1st. But perhaps more likely is that McConnell wants to steamroller the update through, without much in the way of negotiation. He’s already fought against surveillance reform in the past, showing an ability to whip his majority into shape. He’ll likely manage it again. [National Journal via Engadget]