The following post originally appeared on Lawfare.
Senator Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently made comments to press suggesting that he believed the sunset for Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act will occur sometime during June 1, 2015. Senator Burr told MSNBC:
Everybody needs to realize that this act expires on June 1st, the House is back in session on June 1st, so it’s not like they’re going to jam us on Thursday, leave town and make us believe that we can’t send them something else. We can.
If the Senate passes a short-term extension of Sec. 215 or anything other than the USA FREEDOM Act – which cleared the House in a landslide – the House will have to approve the new package. Yet the sunset of Sec. 215 will actually occur before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote again. A sunset, even a very short one, may dramatically change the debate on surveillance reform. No longer would members of Congress be voting on the extension or reform of a current law, they would then be forced to vote to re-instate a defunct law that codifies an unpopular and unnecessary surveillance practice.