The new version of the USA FREEDOM Act rolled out on Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has picked up the support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who announced the addition of his name a cosponsor.
The latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act, a compromise Leahy worked out with the White House, would end the National Service Agency’s bulk metadata collection program as well as add a civil liberties panel to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide some much-needed oversight.
Cruz hailed the measure a bipartisan approach to ending NSA spying.
“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Cruz in a press release on Tuesday. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms.”
“Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights,” said Cruz. “I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”
Though Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall say the measure doesn’t go far enough, the USA FREEDOM Act boasts the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and FreedomWorks. While the bill isn’t perfect, those three groups explain that the new version of the measure is a good start towards reform and confirmed that it would end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.
According to the one-pager provided by Leahy’s office, the USA FREEDOM Act, would also expand government reporting on the number of individuals, including Americans, whose records have been caught up in surveillance efforts and allows private companies to make public the number of FISA court orders and/or national security letters they receive from federal agencies.
“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago,” said Leahy from the Senate floor on Tuesday. ”This is an historic opportunity, and I am grateful that the bill has the support of the administration, a wide range of privacy and civil liberties groups, and the technology industry.”
In addition to Cruz, other cosponsors to the USA FREEDOM Act include: Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Dick Durbin (D-IL). Leahy didn’t offer a timetable for bringing the measure up for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.