The National Security Agency lost its authority to collect the phone records of millions of Americans, thanks to a new reform measure Congress passed on Tuesday. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on Tuesday evening.
It is the first piece of legislation to reform post 9/11 surveillance measures.
“It’s historical,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, one of the leading architects of the reform efforts. “It’s the first major overhaul of government surveillance in decades.”
The weeks-long buildup to the final vote was full of drama.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul assailed the NSA in a 10-hour speech that roused civil libertarians around the country. He opposed both renewing the post 9/11-Patriot Act and the compromise measure — that eventually passed — known as the USA Freedom Act.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and defense hawks such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, had hoped to extend the more expansive Patriot Act, arguing it was essential for national security.