Rand Paul Filibuster
US Senator Rand Paul Reuters

The US Senate, controlled by the Republican Party, has blocked a bill intended to end the National Security Agency's (NSA) bulk collection of domestic phone records.

On 22 May, the bill was voted 57-42, three votes short of the 60-threshold required. The Senate also failed to pass a resolution for a two-month extension to the telephone data dragnet and other parts of the USA Patriot Act which are set to expire on 1 June.

The Senate is due to reconvene on 31 May to try again.

The development comes as a severe blow to the Barack Obama administration that supports ending the bulk collection of phone records.

Earlier, the House of Representatives voted in favour of the bill, with 338 members backing the USA Freedom Act.

Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the NSA, leaked classified documents to the media, revealing mass surveillance programmes of the NSA such as phone tapping and snooping on internet activities.

The Obama administration faced severe criticism from across the globe as documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA had tapped telephone conversations and spied on internet activities of prominent people.

In response, Obama in January 2014 proposed that the NSA stop collecting the records, but he noted that legislation was required to adopt his proposal. As of now, the NSA continues to collect and store records of US phone calls.