Senate Republican leaders managed to scrape up enough votes just past midnight Saturday morning to put off decisive action on the NSA’s bulk collection of American phone records until next Sunday, May 31.

But the hardliners — and make no mistake, they are taking an even harder and more absurd line than the NSA itself — have no endgame.

Only two outcomes are possible at this point:

First, three provisions of the Patriot Act — one of which has provided the legal cover for bulk collection — expire on June 1. (Indeed, the Obama administration has already begun the process of winding it down.)

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