WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- The Senate early Saturday couldn't agree on a measure that would stop U.S. spying through phone records and extend the program past June 1, instead opting to reconvene earlier than expected.
Three spying provisions of the USA Patriot Act are scheduled to expire on June 1, including the National Security Agency's bulk collection of domestic phone records. Senators left Washington Saturday after the rare overnight session for a weeklong Memorial Day vacation. They will return May 31, a day before the program is set to expire.
The developments bring into question the ability to keep a program alive that many -- including President Barack Obama and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- feel is vital to national security, but has put privacy advocates up in arms.
McConnell, the majority leader, proposed to keep the NSA measure in place for an extra day or week, but Republican presidential candidate Sen. Paul Rand of Kentucky objected. McConnell declared an impasse.
"This is a high-threat period and we know what's going on overseas," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "My colleagues, do we really want this law to expire?"
Last week, the House passed a bill to overhaul the NSA, including a provision that would shift the responsibility for the data collection from the federal government to phone companies on a case-by-case basis and stricter limits on how the information could be accessed. That measure failed in a 57 to 42 vote. The House-passed two-month extension of the current law was voted down 54 to 45.
Paul said the NSA's spying program violates the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. His move to block the legislation frustrated other Republicans, who worry about a lapse in the program.
"There's 99 people who were basically willing to have this put off for a period of time so there could be negotiations and one person decided that he didn't want to have that happen," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggesting Paul's motive was to boost campaign fundraising. "I'm sure it's a great revenue raiser."