By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A measure to extend spy agencies' bulk collection of Americans' telephone records was blocked in the U.S. Senate early on Saturday, leaving the fate of the program uncertain days before it expires on June 1. By a vote of 54-45, the Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance a bill that would have extended for two months provisions of the "USA Patriot Act" that allow the collection of vast amounts of telephone "metadata". The data collection program, in which the National Security Agency sweeps up vast amounts of Americans' telephone records and business information, was exposed two years ago by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now a fugitive in Russia.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate struggled unsuccessfully to prevent an interruption in critical government surveillance programs early Saturday, blocking a House-passed bill and several short-term extensions of the USA Patriot Act.
The US Senate rejected legislation early Saturday aimed at reforming NSA intelligence gathering, a blow to President Barack Obama and others who support ending the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records. The House of Representatives passed the measure overwhelmingly last week, with Democrats and Republicans uniting in their desire to rein in the National Security Agency's highly controversial program that scoops up data from millions of Americans with no connection to terrorism. The Senate immediately turned to consideration of a two-month extension that would temporarily reauthorize the telephone data dragnet and other parts of the USA Patriot Act which are set to expire June 1 without congressional action.