Carper Statement on Expiration of Patriot Act Provisions

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Senate failed to reauthorize several provisions of the Patriot Act before a midnight deadline for their expiration.

“Tonight at midnight, key provisions of the Patriot Act will expire. This is a complex and controversial law that raises important questions about our personal freedom and privacy, as well as our national security, and it deserves thoughtful consideration and debate. Earlier this month, our colleagues in the House of Representatives had just such a debate and ultimately passed the USA Freedom Act – which makes several modifications to the Patriot Act – by a vote of 338 to 88. Unfortunately in the Senate, a small number of Senators blocked even having a debate on this important law. That’s unfortunate and deeply disappointing. I understand, respect and welcome my colleagues’ strongly held beliefs on all sides of this debate, but I believe that regardless of your perspective on the surveillance law, we should at least be able to have a debate and legislate. We shouldn’t just let the clock run out on the law and call it a day. Debating and legislating are part of our most basic responsibilities as lawmakers. 

“This is a setback, but it is not a permanent one. Ultimately we will have the opportunity to address this important issue, but not before critical authorities expire tonight at midnight, unnecessarily hindering our government’s ability to protect our nation. Again, it’s unfortunate that a few of my colleagues would not work together to ensure that we could have this debate before tonight’s midnight deadline.

“My personal belief is that these surveillance authorities should be modified and should not be permanent, which is why I am supportive of the House-passed bill, the USA Freedom Act. Furthermore, we need to continue to exercise strong oversight of the government’s surveillance efforts and stand ready to further modify these laws if necessary.

“At the end of the day, I believe that the United States government, from the Obama Administration, to Congress, to our courts, must strike a critical but challenging balance between respecting our cherished civil liberties and privacy while also ensuring that our intelligence gathering agencies have the tools, information and resources they need to do their jobs and keep Americans safe.

“We must continue to work to maintain this difficult balance all the time. I hope Congress will work quickly to find a way to give our government the tools and resources it needs to protect our country while striking that balance.”