Several parts of the controversial Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1, and President Obama scolded the Senate for failing to extend those provisions.
“This needs to get done,” Obama said, calling for the Senate to reform and pass data-gathering programs which were introduced post-9/11.
The National Security Agency’s phone data collection initiative will be forced to close on Monday if Congress doesn’t do anything by then.
Obama and his administration have endorsed the USA Freedom Act, which will change the Patriot Act. Although it passed in the House of Representatives, support faltered in the Senate. The President said the bill “strikes an appropriate balance; our intelligence communities are confident that they can work with the authorities that are provided in that act.”
Under the proposed legislation, phone companies could collect customers’ metadata and the NSA could access it with a specific warrant.
The Senate is in recess until Sunday, but some lawmakers are working to pass legislation to keep the programs from lapsing.
"The House of Representatives did its work ... The Senate did not act," Obama said. "And the problem we have now is that those authorities run out at midnight on Sunday. So I strongly urge the Senate to work through this recess and make sure that they identify a way to get this done.”
FBI Director James Comey also warned of the dangers of allowing the Patriot Act to lapse. Certain parts of the legislation allows the FBI to collect records from hotels, rental car companies and libraries.
“If we lose that authority — which I don’t think is controversial with folks — that is a big problem,” he said.