Progressives Push Back on USA Freedom Act

Saying last week's court ruling invalidating the National Security Agency's bulk data collection of communications records "fundamentally changed the landscape for surveillance reform," CREDO, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Democracy for America, Civic Action and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have urged progressive House members not to support the USA Freedom Act if it comes to the House floor this week.

On April 30, the House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved (25 to 2) a "clean" (no amendments) bill, which would at least rein in, and some say end, NSA bulk metadata collection. Then on May 7, the Second Circuit federal appeals court ruled that bulk phone record metadata collection is not authorized by the Patriot Act.

A Hill source said it was expected to come up for a floor vote May 13. The bill passed ovewhelmingly, but not because all those "yes" votes were in love with the bill. Even the bill's bipartisan sponsors said they still had issues, but had gotten the clear signal from leadership that even one amendment would blow up the carefully crafted compromise.

What the progressive groups said to the Congressional Progressive Caucus was that a bill that would reauthorize the Patriot Act data collection with the compromise adjustments was no longer attractive given the court ruling.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.