The 58-42 vote was two short of the 60 needed to move forward with debate of the bill to end bulk collection of American phone records by the National Security Agency — President Obama’s primary proposal to rein in domestic surveillance.
Most Democrats supported the bill; most Republicans voted against it. The GOP-controlled House previously had passed its own NSA bill, but it was watered down before passage, losing the support of civil liberties groups.
Resistance to the bill from inside the Republican Party has been "unrelenting," says The New York Times.
Before the vote, two top former officials from the Bush administration — Michael Mukasey, former attorney general, and Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA director, essentially called the bill a gift to terrorists in an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal titled “NSA reform that only ISIS could love.”
The legal basis for the phone records program, a provision of the Patriot Act, expires next June.
The disclosure that the spying agency had been collecting and storing domestic phone records since shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was among the most significant by Edward Snowden, a former agency network administrator.
The bill's failure means "there has been little in the way of policy changes as a result of Snowden’s disclosures," says The Associated Press.