The Senate votes overwhelmingly to approve Mike Lee’s USA Freedom Act, delivering a stinging rebuke to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his leadership team.
Speaking to reporters afterward, McConnell at times pounded the podium to emphasize that “no one is listening to your phone calls.” He pulled out his BlackBerry to read a new CNN poll that found 61 percent of Americans supported extending the the PATRIOT Act and said that “Congress is misreading the public mood if they think Americans are concerned about the privacy implications of this.”
“There’s some of us who feel very strongly about this and we were not going to just roll over and accept the House bill without debating it and attempting to amend it,” McConnell said. “You’d think it was the Ten Commandments. The Senate is entitled to change the bill.”
But McConnell ran into an increasingly influential Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who pressed fellow senators to buck McConnell, executing what appeared to be his own whip operation.
Lee convinced so many of his colleagues that McConnell didn’t come close to winning a single amendment vote.