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Heinrich Objects To Extending Illegal Mass Surveillance Program; Votes To Pass USA Freedom Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after voting for the bipartisan USA Freedom Act of 2015, which would end the bulk collection of Americans private records. The measure failed to overcome a filibuster despite receiving 57 votes, just short of the 60-vote threshold. He then objected to passing measures to extend the USA Patriot Act unchanged. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously concluded on May 7, 2015, that the NSA's bulk collection program is illegal.

"It's irresponsible that the Senate failed to pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act, the one bill that enjoys majority support in both chambers of Congress. We had an opportunity to end an era of the government’s bulk collection of billions of private phone records of law-abiding Americans. In my view, this program clearly violates the spirit--if not the letter--of the Fourth Amendment, and ignores the will of the American people. Our counterterrorism efforts should be focused on bolstering programs that actually target and prevent terrorism. We can and must balance the government’s need to keep our nation safe with protecting our constitutional rights."