We'll see how this works out for him. After completely bungling
a strategy to avoid reforms to the Patriot Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to finally allow the USA Freedom Act, a House bill that contains some reforms of the program, to go forward. McConnell's nemesis on this is the guy he endorsed for president: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Paul successfully blocked McConnell on any kind of extension of the Patriot Act, insisting that he would be happy to have the USA Freedom Act come to the floor as long as he had the opportunity to offer amendments. McConnell, however, has set up an amendment process
that will prevent Paul—or anyone—from offering amendments.
By "filling the tree" with what he called "modest" to the measure, McConnell effectively blocked off debate on other potential amendments—including two Paul had said he would stand down for if he was promised simple-majority votes on them.
A Paul aide confirmed that the GOP presidential hopeful would not be getting votes on his desired amendments. […]
McConnell's amendments are considered "germane," meaning they will need only a simple majority to pass—not 60 votes. If any of them pass, they would need to go back to the House, which could prompt a game of legislative Ping-Pong delaying the bill's final passage—and keep the Patriot Act lapse from ending.
The changes McConnell is demanding weaken the reform bill, which right there jeopardizes the bipartisan House coalition that passed it last month. One of McConnell's amendments would strike language in the bill that requires the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to declassify significant opinions, a requirement that prevents the court from de facto passing "secret laws" like bulk collection of phone data—something that was not
authorized by Congress in the law. Another amendment would require that the director of national intelligence monitor and certify that the new NSA phone-records program works as intended. McConnell also wants to weaken a requirement that the FISC consult with a group of experts to discuss privacy problems in any of the court's orders. McConnell also wants to lengthen the transition of the bulk collection program—taking it away from the NSA and putting it in the hands of the telecoms—from six months in the existing bill to one year, and would require that phone companies give a six-month notice to the government if they plan to change the way they retain their call records. That comes too close to an actual mandate on phone companies to collect the data than some tech companies and privacy experts are comfortable with.
McConnell can probably get the 51 votes he needs on these amendments, but that doesn't clear all the legislative hurdles that can still arise and stalling that Paul can achieve, if he really is intent on fighting this to the bitter end. But those changes will require a whole new set of wrangling in the House, which has been downright hostile to McConnell and his efforts to screw this up. This is going to take a while.