Parts of Patriot Act expire as Senate fails to reach deal to reauthorize controversial spy law

Key sections of the Patriot Act expired at midnight Sunday after the Senate failed to reach a bipartisan compromise to renew the anti-terrorism law.

The Senate voted 77-17 on Sunday to move forward debating a bill that would stop National Security Agency from bulk collection of the phone data of millions of Americans.

But final approval of the USA Freedom Act was postponed until later this week, triggering the midnight expiration of three controversial sections of the Patriot Act.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a GOP candidate for President, pledged to do everything in his power to block renewal of the spy law passed in the wake of 9/11.

“Tonight we stopped the illegal NSA bulk data collection,” Paul said in a statement. “This is a victory no matter how you look at it. It might be short-lived, but I hope that it provides a road for a robust debate.”

But others, including potential GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush, pushed back. Bush said Sunday the act must be reauthorized to keep Americans safe.

“These tools that the government has used over the last dozen or so years to keep this country safe are integral to making sure we stop terrorists in their tracks,” CIA Director John Brennan said earlier on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “They have helped stop attacks.”

“There’s been a little too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have really skewed the debate on the issue,” Brennan added. “These tools are important to American lives.”

Former NSA Director Michael Hayden, meanwhile, said Paul’s efforts to defeat the renewal were “really unfortunate.”

“Why would we give up things that the professionals say make us safer?” Hayden said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If you’re asking me what I would do in a perfect world, I’d reauthorize the Patriot Act.”

Credit: NY Daily News