Countering the narrative on the other side of the Capitol, three senators held an impromptu press conference Tuesday afternoon, calling on the Obama administration to go ahead and work around Congress.
Huddled against the south wall of the Senate chamber, upstaging Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's official weekly presser just feet away, Sens. Rand Paul, Ron Wyden, and Mark Udall offered praise for the administration's proposal to end the National Security Administration's practice of collecting phone data. But all three senators tacked on one big addendum: Do it now.
President Obama, who has said he will increasingly rely on his executive authority this year, much to the chagrin of congressional Republicans, said this week that his administration will have to wait for congressional approval before the NSA can cease its data collection program. But Paul, Wyden, and Udall argued Tuesday that the president doesn't need Congress in this instance.
"They never quite got congressional permission to do it in the first place," Paul said Tuesday, referring to the collection of millions of Americans' phone records. "So I think they can stop immediately."
But these senators are not taking themselves entirely out of the equation either. All three said Tuesday that they want an NSA change codified into law — presumably lest some other president reinstate the program, or Obama change his mind — but getting legislation through Congress takes too much time and can be done after the fact.