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News Wrap: Senate approves bill reshaping NSA surveillance

In our news wrap Tuesday, the Senate passed the USA Freedom Act to replace expired provisions of the Patriot Act, including the NSA’s legal authority to collect bulk phone records. The new legislation will impose limits on collection and access to the records. Also, Western and Arab nations met in Paris to pledge new support to Iraq in the fight against the growing Islamic State threat.

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    In the day’s other news, the Senate approved legislation to reshape the National Security Agency’s surveillance. The NSA’s legal authority to collect bulk phone records under the Patriot Act expired Sunday night. In its place, the USA Freedom Act will impose new limits on collection and access to the records. Senators passed it 67-32 after House leaders warned against making any changes.

    The House overwhelmingly approved the measure last month. That demand aggravated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader:

    We were not going to simply just roll over and accept the House bill without debating it and attempting to amend it. We hear various members of the House saying, don’t change the bill at all. You would think it was the Ten Commandments. The Senate is entitled to change the bill.


    McConnell favored extending the expired Patriot Act, along with its expired tougher surveillance provisions, but Republican Rand Paul, a presidential candidate, blocked that last week. Today, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and other Democrats said the GOP mishandled the whole issue.

  • SEN. RICHARD DURBIN , Minority Whip:

    Senate Republicans wasted precious time as the clock ran out on key national security authority, putting their own political interests ahead of the national interests. Well, enough is enough. We as senators are not here to serve as extras in a presidential campaign commercial.


    The bill now goes to the president’s desk. He tweeted this evening that he will sign it as soon as it arrives.


    In Paris today, Western and Arab nations pledged new support to help Iraq fight a growing Islamic State threat. Foreign ministers and others convened at the French Foreign Ministry.

    The gathering was organized after ISIS fighters captured Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said ISIS fighters are using enormous truck bombs that explode like a mini-nuclear bomb. He complained the coalition’s air campaign is not enough and said he needs far more help.


    Suspected Islamist militants have struck again in Nigeria. Witnesses and medics report up to 50 people were killed in a series of bombings today. It happened in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, where an explosion ripped apart a crowded meat market.


    Greece submitted a proposal to its creditors today, hoping to unlock more bailout funds. Details were not made public, but Eurozone leaders warned the two sides are still a long way from agreement.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said it’s up to those leaders to decide what happens now.

  • ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister, Greece (through interpreter):

    We have made concessions, because a compromise demands concessions. We know these concessions will be difficult, but we have submitted a realistic plan for Greece to exit the crisis, a realistic plan, whose acceptance by the institutions, our lenders and our partners in Europe will mark the end of the scenario of divisions in Europe.


    Without new rescue funds, Greece may default on its debts at the end of this month.


    Back in this country, police in Boston today shot and killed a man under surveillance in a terror investigation. CNN and others reported he’d become an Islamist radical and recently posted online threats against police. Boston’s commissioner says when officers and federal agents moved in, the man pulled a large knife and came at them, so they opened fire.


    Amtrak’s boss vowed today to get new technology up and running, so it can stop speeding passenger trains. The train that wrecked in Philadelphia last month wasn’t using positive train control, or PTC. It hit a curve doing more than 100 miles an hour, and derailed, killing eight people.

    At a House hearing today, an emotional Joseph Boardman said he’s focused on the Northeast Corridor.


    I still believe that the single greatest contribution that my generation of railroaders can make to this industry is to implement PTC as rapidly as possible. And I promise you that, by the end of this year, this system, which will dramatically enhance safety, will be complete and operational on the NEC.


    The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the May 12 accident.


    The acting head of the Transportation Security Administration has been reassigned over security failures. Melvin Carraway was ousted in the wake of tests overseen by the agency’s inspector general. Government audits reported undercover agents smuggled fake explosives, weapons and other banned items past TSA screeners in 67 out of 70 attempts.


    The California State Senate voted today to allow immigrants here illegally to buy insurance on a state health exchange. California would be the first to take that step, under the Affordable Care Act, if the state assembly and the governor go along. The immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for insurance subsidies.


    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 28 points to close back near 18010. The Nasdaq fell six points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

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