House defeats effort to extend key provisions of Patriot Act

An unusual coalition of liberals and libertarian conservatives has defeated an effort in the House to extend certain provisions of the Patriot Act until December of this year.

Washington Post:


The House measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and required a two-thirds majority for passage, failed on a 277-to-148 vote. Twenty-six Republicans voted with 122 Democrats to oppose the measure, while 67 Democrats voted with 210 Republicans to back it. Ten members did not vote.The measure would have extended three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire on Monday, Feb. 28, unless Congress moves to reauthorize them. One of the provisions authorizes the FBI to continue using roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access "any tangible items," such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third is a "lone wolf" provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act that allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

The vote came as several tea party-aligned members of the new freshman class had been expressing doubts about the measure.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who highlighted his opposition to the law during his upstart 2010 Senate campaign, signaled Monday that he may vote ultimately vote against an extension when the measure comes up in the Senate, likely later this month.

"I've had a lot of reservations about the Patriot Act," Paul said when asked whether he's leaning toward voting for an extension. "We're reviewing it and we're going over it, and we will have something out probably in the next couple of days," he added. "We won't be shy about it when it comes out."

Bottom line: There are many libertarians who believe that the Patriot Act goes too far in threatening individual liberty by giving too much police power to the FBI and law enforcement. There is also the issue of executive overreach that is brought up by liberals. It is an issue in which a good case can be made effectively by both sides, which explains the non-party line, non ideological vote. This is a matter of individual conscience for each lawmaker.

President Obama wants to extend the law until 2013. If it is going to happen, this is probably a good idea. It would give law enforcement some continuity in order to effectively do their jobs. Besides, it is unlikely that anyone is going to change their mind in less than a year. Congress has enough on its plate without having to take a vote on this prickly issue every 12 months.

Rep. Kucinich challenged the tea party to stand with him in opposing what he considers an unconstitutional law. Considering that the Supreme Court has upheld key provisions of the statute over the years, he's got a queer idea about the Constitution. Nevertheless, several tea party freshmen joined with Kucinich in opposing the extension.

The bill will be taken up in the senate, possibly as early as next week.




An unusual coalition of liberals and libertarian conservatives has defeated an effort in the House to extend certain provisions of the Patriot Act until December of this year.

Washington Post:


The House measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and required a two-thirds majority for passage, failed on a 277-to-148 vote. Twenty-six Republicans voted with 122 Democrats to oppose the measure, while 67 Democrats voted with 210 Republicans to back it. Ten members did not vote.

The measure would have extended three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire on Monday, Feb. 28, unless Congress moves to reauthorize them. One of the provisions authorizes the FBI to continue using roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access "any tangible items," such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third is a "lone wolf" provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act that allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

The vote came as several tea party-aligned members of the new freshman class had been expressing doubts about the measure.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who highlighted his opposition to the law during his upstart 2010 Senate campaign, signaled Monday that he may vote ultimately vote against an extension when the measure comes up in the Senate, likely later this month.

"I've had a lot of reservations about the Patriot Act," Paul said when asked whether he's leaning toward voting for an extension. "We're reviewing it and we're going over it, and we will have something out probably in the next couple of days," he added. "We won't be shy about it when it comes out."

Bottom line: There are many libertarians who believe that the Patriot Act goes too far in threatening individual liberty by giving too much police power to the FBI and law enforcement. There is also the issue of executive overreach that is brought up by liberals. It is an issue in which a good case can be made effectively by both sides, which explains the non-party line, non ideological vote. This is a matter of individual conscience for each lawmaker.

President Obama wants to extend the law until 2013. If it is going to happen, this is probably a good idea. It would give law enforcement some continuity in order to effectively do their jobs. Besides, it is unlikely that anyone is going to change their mind in less than a year. Congress has enough on its plate without having to take a vote on this prickly issue every 12 months.

Rep. Kucinich challenged the tea party to stand with him in opposing what he considers an unconstitutional law. Considering that the Supreme Court has upheld key provisions of the statute over the years, he's got a queer idea about the Constitution. Nevertheless, several tea party freshmen joined with Kucinich in opposing the extension.

The bill will be taken up in the senate, possibly as early as next week.




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