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Politics

Sen. King Urges Colleagues to Pass NSA Bill

WASHINGTON - Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King is calling on his fellow lawmakers to move quickly to pass an amended bill overhauling the National Security Agency.

Certain NSA surveillance powers under the law's predecessor, the Patriot Act, expired Sunday night, after Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, blocked consideration of the new USA Freedom Act.

Paul, who's running for president, argues the new law must do more to reign in bulk collection of phone call data and other surveillance tactics he says are unconstitutional.

King says the Freedom Act would take bulk call data away from the NSA and leave it with the phone companies, a move he favors as long as there are time limits on how long carriers can hold on to the information.

"They now hold it, as a matter of business practices, 18 months to two years, which is all that is necessary in order to have the data available for national security search, if necessary," King said this afternoon on the Senate floor. "The problem is, there's no requirement that they maintain that level of retention."

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, is reportedly set to introduce amendments to the USA Freedom Act.