Republicans pile on Rand Paul over Patriot Act threat

Updated

Sen. Rand Paul’s plans to derail a senate vote reviewing key anti-terrorists programs under the Patriot Act has sparked criticism from fellow Republicans, with Jeb Bush calling him flat out “wrong.”

Bush on CBS Sunday said the Act has vital intel on ISIS and “has kept us safe, plain and simple.” Earlier this weekend, the potential presidential candidate and former Florida governor said Paul “wrong” to obstruct the vote. 

Some believe Americans face a potential threat to national security if the Senate fails to reach a decision on parts of the act that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor domestic phone metadata. Critics argue the NSA’s surveillance program allows the government to illegally and unconstitutionally spy.

Related: Rand Paul vows to force expiration of Patriot Act

“I think he’s wrong,” former New York Gov. George Pataki said of Paul on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t understand why, if it’s going to happen on Wednesday or Thursday, he doesn’t allow it to happen today,” the Republican presidential candidate said. 

Paul took to Twitter on Saturday saying he “will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program.” Although he lacks the ability to halt the vote indefinitely, if successful, the temporary delay could make Americans susceptible to terror threats and limits security agencies ability to monitor potential threats until the Senate resumes.

If the Senate fails to conduct a successful vote by midnight, the Patriot Act will shut down until next week. If a successful vote is reached, the Senate can implement three options: to pass a temporary extension of the Patriot Act, pass the USA Freedom Act – which can end the collection of phone records, or pass a modified version of the USA Freedom Act.

Pataki, who was Gov. of New York during the 9/11 terror attacks says “it’s simply putting Americans at risk for political reasons.” He adds that “we’re at greater risk today that we’ve been at any time since Sept. 11 of another terrorist attack.”

President Barack Obama on Friday emphasized his concerns if the reform is not passed with a warning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the other senators.

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which, for a certain period of time, those authorities go away, and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or could’ve apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction of the Senate,” the president said. 

The rare Sunday senate sessions will begin 4 p.m. EST. 

George Pataki, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Spying

Republicans pile on Rand Paul over Patriot Act threat

Updated