Washington (CNN) – Sen. Rand Paul took a shot Thursday on Twitter at President Barack Obama over the National Security Agency surveillance controversy.
As the President was meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, the first term Republican senator from Kentucky, who is one of Obama's biggest critics over NSA surveillance activities, jokingly offered the President a suggestion on what he should say to the pontiff.
Paul's tweet came two days after the President and congressional leaders outlined proposals for ending the NSA's sweeping collection of bulk telephone records, in hopes of ending concerns over how the federal government keeps records known as metadata.
As Paul was sending his tweet, the White House announced that the bulk metadata will be held by telephone companies.
"I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk. Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today," the President said in a statement Thursday.
The moves follow Obama's call in January for NSA changes in the aftermath of last year's classified leaks by former agency contractor Edward Snowden that revealed the magnitude of surveillance programs created in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Paul, a strong supporter of civil liberties and privacy rights, has long been an opponent of the NSA's collection of the phone records of Americans. Earlier this year he and the grassroots conservative group FreedomWorks filed a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration for the NSA's metadata collection.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report