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Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (R) and ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (L) preside over the second day of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Commitee on Capitol Hill in

President Obama's announcement that bulk collection of telephone metadata of Americans will continue, though with as of yet undetermined changes, remains the flashpoint for reform-minded members of Congress. What they heard today wasn't enough for many.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is taking the lead among reformers, says Congress still has work to do.

"In the wake of these announcements, Congress has important tasks ahead. The President has ordered some significant changes, but more are needed. Section 215 must still be amended, legislatively, to ensure it is not used for dragnet surveillance in the future, and we must fight to create an effective, institutional advocate at the FISA court," Leahy said in a statement. "I will continue to push for meaningful legislative reforms to our surveillance laws."
He's got backup:
The 2 month review process POTUS announced must result in the end of government bulk collection of data. #EndThisDragnet
Sens. Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), who have been consistent and vocal critics of the bulk collection program, as well as other programs in which the NSA is overreaching what they say is its legal authority, praised the president's call to make changes to the program, but reiterated that the dragnet collection of data has to end. They also called for further reforms: to require warrants for accessing Americans emails and other communications, to close the loophole that allows "back-door searches" on data for identifying information, and for "meaningful reforms of the outdated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court process." In an emailed statement, Sen. Jon Tester joined these reformers, saying "[t]oo many questions remain about the reach of intelligence agencies into Americans’ private lives." He is cosponsoring Sen. Leahy's legislation.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the House sponsor of the Leahy bill, the USA Freedom Act, is also calling for congressional action.

Sensenbrenner: The president & intelligence community have repeatedly misled Congress & the American people & lack credibility for reform.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner: Congressional action should be taken to protect Americans’ civil liberties by reining in the NSA.
As of yet, Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) hasn't issued a statement. She's been strongly supportive of the NSA's programs, and has crafted legislation to codify it. Both Leahy and Feinstein have strong bipartisan support, this isn't an issue that breaks down along party lines, but the momentum might be behind reformers. That's taking into account the very narrow defeat of an amendment in the House last year that would have restricted data collection. President Obama's reforms are not going to end this debate over bulk data collection in Congress. It's a fight that could very well linger into next year; the section of the Patriot Act that the administration says authorizes this collection expires in 15 months.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 11:42 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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