The Senate is preparing to vote on a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which has been used to enable surveillance of the kind exposed by Edward Snowden. It allowed for the bulk collection of data on millions of phone calls that could be queried by law enforcement and security agencies. The House has already passed a reauthorization of the act, but the Senate has considered several amendments first.
The ACLU urged Congress members to add three specific amendments that would limit it if they reauthorize its powers. One, from Senators Steve Daines and Ron Wyden would have prohibited the warrantless collection of search or browser histories. Senators voted on that Wednesday afternoon, but it failed to pass, coming one yes vote short of the required 60, with several senators including Ben Sasse and Bernie Sanders not voting. A Politico reporter noted that, according to an aide, Washington senator Patty Murray would have voted yes, but was still flying back to D.C. when the votes were cast.