Senate’s NSA Reform Bill Heads For Uncertain Vote

So much for bipartisanship. Earlier today, Senator Mitch McConnell attacked the USA FREEDOM Act, intimating that supporting it would harm the nation in its current struggle with terror-state ISIS. Also today, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden, from the other slice of the aisle, indicated that they would vote for the bill.

A few Republicans appear set to support the Act, including the net neutrality confused Senator Ted Cruz, but mostly it’s come down to this:

“Let’s get started on this. I would characterize this bill as a beginning, but let’s get started. Tonight is the beginning of reform.”

And this:

“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs. The threat from ISIL is real.”

So that’s where we’re at.

There is a cloture vote scheduled in the 2:30 PST Senate bloc. It will require 60 votes to pass. It isn’t clear if that many votes exist. I haven’t spoken to a single person today who was confident about what will happen, but the math looks tough.

If the Senate’s bill fails to advance, that’s it for this Congress on NSA reform. And, given that Senator McConnell is signaling that this bill — which doesn’t go far enough in the eyes of some — goes too far, I’d posit that the chance of reform in the next congress isn’t high.

Of course, what the house will do even if the senate passes the bill isn’t clear, though I have heard continued murmur that the lower chamber might pass the upper chamber’s bill to get rid of the issue, so that it won’t pose distraction in the new year. That’s speculation.

Strap in, it’s almost time for the vote.