McConnell speaks to reporters in the Capitol in Washington

Fate of U.S. domestic surveillance program uncertain after Senate vote

McConnell speaks to reporters in the Capitol in WashingtonBy Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate blocked a measure to extend spy agencies’ bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records early on Saturday, leaving the fate of the program uncertain days before its June 1 expiration. By a vote of 54-45, the Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance a bill that would have extended for two months provisions of the “USA Patriot Act” that allow the collection of vast amounts of telephone “metadata.” The data collection program, in which the National Security Agency sweeps up vast amounts of Americans’ telephone records and business information, was exposed two years ago by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now a fugitive in Russia. The vote against the extension came after the Senate narrowly blocked the “USA Freedom Act,” a bill that would end the bulk telephone data collection and replace it with a more targeted program.

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