Battle over renewed USA Patriot Act

By a 251-174 vote Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to renew 16 of the provisions in the Patriot Act that were set to expire at the end of the year. The bill now heads to the Senate, where a larger battle is expected.

Among the provisions the House proposes to extend is one allowing the FBI, with a court order, to place wiretaps on every phone a suspect uses and another permitting the agency to obtain personal records, including medical documents and library activity. The bill also changes rules surrounding National Security Letters, which the FBI has used to request personal information.

With Senate approval, these particular provisions would be available to the FBI for another four years. The majority of the act, however, has no expiration date. A bipartisan group of nine senators is rejecting the call to pass the bill swiftly and wants to garner support for a three-month extension to allow negotiators to craft a new bill.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), was the only senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in 2001. He has called the House bill "a major disappointment" and vowed last week to do everything he can, including filibuster, to stop the bill's passage, AHN reports.


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