House fails to extend Patriot Act portions

Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:58 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A measure extending portions of the Patriot Act fell seven votes short in the House as 26 Republicans joined Democrats in voting it down.

The bill failed to garner the required two-thirds majority needed for a final tally of 277-148 Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

Republican leaders said they would bring the measure back later this month under normal House rules that require only a simple majority. The vote Tuesday was under rules reserved for non-controversial measures that require a super-majority for passage.

The measure would have extended through the end of 2011 three provisions that expire Feb. 28. One would give federal investigators access to a suspect's personal materials with a judge's approval, the Los Angeles Times reported. Another would allow, with a court order, roving wiretaps of targets. The third would enable authorities to conduct surveillance on foreign terrorism suspects who may not be tied to known groups.

House leaders blamed Democrats for not delivering the votes on a measure the Obama administration supported, the Post said.

"Democrats in Congress voted to deny their own administration's request for key weapons in the war on terror," said Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio, a Patriot Act opponent, said he was joined by more than two dozen Republicans who support the Bill of Rights.

"The Patriot Act represents the undermining of civil liberties," Kucinich said. Republicans "brought (the bill) forward not knowing the votes."

The clock is ticking, the Times said. With two federal holidays and a congressional recess, February has seven working days left.

"I am disappointed in the outcome," Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., author of the original act, said. "We are now under a time crunch."

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