U.S. House leader: Senate must act on bulk data collection

Reuters News
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Posted: May 21, 2015 12:04 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday urged the Senate to pass a bill, already approved by the House, to end spy agencies' bulk collection of Americans' telephone records and replace it with a more targeted system.

"The House has acted. It's time for the Senate to act," House Speaker John Boehner told a news conference.

He spoke hours before House members were expected to leave Washington for a 10-day recess, returning just as the legislation allowing the bulk collection expires on June 1. The Senate is due to leave Washington at the end of this week.

Even though the Senate and House are both controlled by Republicans, congressional leaders have been unable to agree on how to deal with the surveillance program exposed two years ago by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Boehner said there is "a big disconnect" between how the Senate and House view the USA Freedom Act, which the House passed May 13.

"I've been surprised by it, but at the end of the day, we've got to work our way through this issue. I've no doubt that at some point, we will," he told reporters.

When asked if the House would pass an extension of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act that provide the legal justification for the so-called "metadata" collection program and are expiring on June 1, Boehner said only that the House would consider it.

"If they act, we'll take certainly a look at what they do and make a decision on how to proceed," he said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and David Lawder; Editing by Susan Heavey)