PATRIOT Act Provisions Get Three-Month Extension, But Nearly Lose Funding
by Gavin Baker
Feb 18, 2011
The House voted yesterday to agree to the Senate's three-month extension of expiring PATRIOT Act provisions. The President is expected to sign the bill before Feb. 28, when the current provisions expire.
The expiring provisions authorize the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to grant warrants to federal investigators for "roving wiretaps" of an individual; for surveillance of a foreign citizen, even without showing that the person is a terrorist or foreign agent; and for "business records," including library records.
It wasn't the only House debate relating to the PATRIOT Act yesterday. Later in the day, while debating the continuing resolution on funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, the House considered an amendment to prohibit funding for PATRIOT Act searches of library and bookstore records. The amendment was offered by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Walter Jones (R-NC).
A recorded vote on the amendment was delayed until this afternoon, when it failed 196 to 231 – a much narrower margin than the short-term extension received. In opposing the amendment, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) argued that the reauthorization process, rather than an appropriations bill, was the proper venue to discuss changes to the law. If a handful of lawmakers agree, and are convinced by the hearings and debates expected over the next three months, it could add up to enough votes to pass reforms to the controversial provisions.back to Blog