Update: yesterday the Senate passed and the President signed the USA Freedom Act. It represents a partial victory for privacy advocates. The government will gradually conclude its warrantless collection of phone records, but other controversial elements of the Patriot Act remain intact. The bill passed with 67 votes in the Senate, after it garnered overwhelming support in the House of Representatives last month.
As you read the list of Yeas and Nays, bear in mind that even though a Senator’s vote can be influenced by his or her region, state, and political party, the rationale behind each vote is often profoundly different. For example, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida Senator Marco Rubio voted against the bill because they favored the status quo; Rand Paul opposed the bill because he believed it was too modest. Southerner Lindsey Graham was absent, but most likely would have opposed the USA Freedom Act; Ted Cruz, a Texan, voted in favor of freedom.