Washington (CNN): Americans overwhelmingly want to see Congress renew the law enabling the government to collect data on the public’s telephone calls in bulk, though they are split on whether allowing that law to expire increases the risk of terrorism in the U.S.
With the provisions of the Patriot Act which allow the National Security Administration to collect data on Americans’ phone calls newly expired, a new CNN/ORC poll finds 61% of Americans think the law ought to be renewed, including majorities across party lines, while 36% say it should not be reinstated.
Republican leaders in the Senate are working to pass a bill to reinstate the law, after delays led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), whose presidential campaign has been noted for its appeal to independent voters and younger Republicans, and other surveillance opponents led to the law’s expiration at 12:01 a.m. Monday. But Paul’s stance on the issue is unlikely to bring him many fans within his own party.
Support for renewal peaks among Republicans, 73% of whom back the law. Democrats largely agree, with 63% saying the law should be renewed. Independents are least apt to back it, with 55% saying renew it and 42% let it expire. Liberals, regardless of partisan affiliation, are most likely to say the law should not be renewed, 50% say so while 48% want to see it renewed.