The Senate struggled unsuccessfully to prevent an interruption in critical government surveillance programs early Saturday, blocking a House-passed bill and several short-term extensions of the USA Patriot Act.

The main stumbling block was a House-passed provision to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic phone records. Instead, the records would remain with telephone companies subject to a case-by-case review.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., favored retaining the program, but fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul, a Republican presidential contender, blocked any extension, no matter how brief, past the midnight May 31 expiration.

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