WASHINGTON, May 26 (UPI) -- Congress approved a four-year extension of surveillance provisions in the U.S. Patriot Act Thursday, hours before they were scheduled to expire.
A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had ordered the measure to be signed by autopen before the midnight deadline, The Washington Post reported. The president is in France for the Group of Eight summit.
"Failure to sign this legislation poses a significant risk to U.S. national security," Nick Shapiro said.
The Senate voted 72-23 for the extension, while the vote in the House was 250-153.
Opposition to the vote was bipartisan, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a libertarian conservative, in temporary alliance with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. Paul made a number of unsuccessful attempts to amend the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressed the majority view when he suggested the increased ability to conduct surveillance helped lead to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
"Without the Patriot Act, investigators would not have the tools they need to follow these new leads and disrupt terrorist plots, needlessly putting our national security at risk," Reid said.