The majority leader wanted to block the USA Freedom Act and extend the Patriot Act. Now the bill he fought so hard to preserve is in danger of expiring.
All Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted was a quick extension of the Patriot Act and then a vacation.
Early Saturday morning, his plans for a two-month extension quickly dwindled to a weeklong extension, then a four-day extension, then a two-day extension, then a one-day extension. Each time, McConnell was rebuffed by a small coterie led by Sen. Rand Paul, his home-state colleague, a close ally and friend, not to mention his choice for the 2016 presidential nomination.
Call it the Bluegrass State brawl.
The all-out legislative fight capped off the end of a strange session for McConnell, when not only Democrats but his own Republican allies in the House questioned his strategy, one which left the majority leader with an abbreviated recess and no solution to the problem of the Patriot Act’s pending expiration on June 1.
Just before 2 a.m. on Saturday, McConnell threw in the towel, for the time being. After attempting to use one of his best-loved tools, the clock and the threat of missed flights home, to cajole a divided Senate into extending the Patriot Act unchanged for at least a short time, McConnell will have to try again next week with an unusual Sunday afternoon session. That will give members just a few hours to pass some kind of extension.
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