Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following statement after the Senate voted to begin consideration of the USA FREEDOM Act.  Grassley voted against moving ahead on the bill.  In addition to tonight’s statement below, click here to see a detailed statement Grassley inserted into the Congressional Record last week upon the initial vote to begin consideration of the bill.

“For months, I’ve been working with members of both houses of Congress from both sides of the political aisle to try to find a middle ground solution that would reauthorize and strengthen our critical national security authorities, while at the same time enacting meaningful reform by ending the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records under Section 215 and providing greater transparency and accountability to Congress and the American people.  During that time, I’ve exchanged thoughts and ideas with the authors the USA FREEDOM Act as well as the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I continue to have serious concerns with the bill.  I’m particularly concerned about the lack of certainty and security surrounding the provider-based system to which the bill would transition the telephone records program, the bill’s addition of an unprecedented “panel of experts” to challenge the government’s applications in the FISA court –  a benefit we’d be extending to terrorists that typical criminals don’t have when federal judges approve traditional wiretaps or search warrants – and its implementation of a series of multilateral treaties related to nuclear terrorism and proliferation without important provisions that were requested by both the Bush and Obama administrations.  These provisions would provide the Department of Justice with key tools to combat nuclear terrorists, including the ability to seek wiretaps to investigate them, and to pursue the death penalty upon their conviction, in appropriate cases.
“Now that the Senate has voted to proceed to consider the USA FREEDOM Act, I hope these concerns can be addressed through the amendment process so that we can enact reform that appropriately balances national security with the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans.”