- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2015

The White House said Friday there is “no plan B” if key Patriot Act powers expire at midnight Sunday.

Administration officials pressed Senate leaders — currently on a weeklong Memorial Day recess — to return to Washington and immediately pass legislation that would extend most government surveillance tools but also would take steps to protect Americans’ privacy.

“There is no plan B. There is no executive action the president can take to give our law enforcement and national security professionals all the tools they need,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

The House already has passed the USA Freedom Act, which would extend most Patriot Act powers but would end the government’s collection of bulk phone records. The bill came three votes short of the 60 needed to clear the Senate earlier this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office has said senators are working on a solution and that the chamber will be back in session on Sunday.

But the White House says Mr. McConnell and other Senate leaders are wasting time and should simply approve the USA Freedom Act, which has strong bipartisan support.

“Why are we taking the chance? There’s no rational explanation for the Senate not acting in bipartisan fashion,” Mr. Earnest said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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