WASHINGTON — Since 2011, when Republicans took control of the House, Congress has lurched from one deadline to the next, as Republicans and Democrats have sparred bitterly over funding for the government, the ability to lift the debt ceiling and other policy matters.
But unlike those fights, the Senate’s showdown this weekend over the future of the government’s dragnet of American phone records is not a result of a partisan fracas. It is an ideological battle within the Republican Party, pitting the Senate majority leader against the speaker of the House and, in the Senate, newcomers against long-serving members, and defense hawks against a rising tide of younger, more libertarian-minded members often from Western states.
Senate leaders are expected to try to assemble a compromise surveillance bill on Sunday that can get the required votes to proceed before the authorizing law expires Monday. President Obama and his director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., added more pressure with sharp statements on Friday and Saturday calling for immediate approval of a surveillance bill passed by the House.