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PATRIOT ACT extension passes Senate, heads to Obama’s desk
February 16, 2011
- The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend through May three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire later this month. The move is designed to buy time for lawmakers to fully debate and hold hearings on the controversial counterterrorism surveillance law.
The bill passed on an 86-to-12-vote, with two senators not voting. Most lawmakers from both parties voted in favor of the measure, but the opposition was also bipartisan; among the dozen lawmakers voting against it were nine Democrats, two Republicans and one independent.
The Senate had been considering several different proposals that would have extended the Patriot Act provisions permanently or through 2013. But given the time constraints — both chambers are in recess next week — Senate leaders agreed to a short-term extension through May 27 to give Congress more time to work toward a longer-term reauthorization.
On the Senate floor Tuesday evening, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had already announced his opposition to extending the Patriot Act provisions, denounced the law as an infringement of civil liberties.
“Now we have essentially government agents, akin to soldiers, writing warrants; it’s ripe for abuse,” said Paul, a libertarian-leaning freshman and the son of one of the Patriot Act’s most outspoken critics, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
The extension will now head to President Barack Obama’s desk. Members of Congress will hold hearings on the PATRIOT Act, a law that has documented abuses by federal authorities.
The only Republicans to vote against extension were Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), both freshman. Paul announced his opposition to the PATRIOT Act a few days in advance of the vote. He also recorded this video explaining his vote:
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