Patriot Act Surveillance Powers Reclaimed As Bill Clears Congress

President Obama tweeted: “Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I’ll sign it as soon as I get it.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against the USA Freedom Act. Mike Theiler / Reuters

The Senate passed the USA Freedom Act on Thursday, ending the NSA's authority to sweep up the phone records of millions of Americans, and reining in domestic surveillance programs provoked by the terrorist attacks of September 11.

The passage of the bill follows a Senate debate so contentious that portions of the Patriot Act expired after lawmakers failed to resolve their differences by a Monday deadline. Should the president sign the new bill into law, federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies will regain some of their surveillance powers — but they'll be tempered by some important privacy protections.

On Tuesday President Obama tweeted:

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