Sections of the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act are set to expire this week unless the Senate acts during a special Sunday session. "These authorities expire Sunday at midnight," pleads the president. "Suddenly we're dark and heaven forbid we've got a problem."
Rand Paul and an alliance of liberals and libertarians in the Senate have vowed to block re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act as it was, while a more close-knit group around Paul also opposes the similarly-named USA-FREEDOM Act, a compromise worked out last month in the House.
"The only thing standing in the way is a handful of Senators who are resisting these reforms," states President Obama.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I thought this would be a good opportunity before we break for the weekend, to just remind everyone that on Sunday at midnight, a whole bunch of the authorities that we use to prevent terrorist attacks in this country expire.
Now, fortunately the House of Representatives was able to put forward a piece of legislation, the USA-FREEDOM Act that received overwhelming bipartisan support.
And what it does is not only continue authorities that currently exist, it is not controversial.
For example, the capacity of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to use what si called a roving wiretap, so if we know there is an individual where there is probable cause, that individual might be engaged in a terrorist act but is switching cell phones, we can move from cell phone to cell phone.
Not a controversial provision. Those authorities would be continued. What the USA-FREEDOM Act also does is it reforms the bulk data collection program that has been of significant concern and that I promised we could reform over a year and a half ago.
So we now how Democrats and Republicans who think this is the right way to go.
We've got our law enforcement and national security teams and civil liberties proponents and advocates who say this is the right way to go.
The only thing that is standing in the way is a handful of Senators who are resisting these reforms, despite law enforcement saying let's go ahead and get this done. So we've only got a few days.
These authorities expire Sunday at midnight and I don't want us to be in a situation where for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we're dark and heaven forbid we've got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn't do so simply because of action in the Senate.