U.S. House Republicans have fumbled the Patriot Act. We have not heard this much “can you believe it,” since Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers folded like a 50 cent pack of playing cards at a yard sale.
The bill to keep much of the soon to be expiring Act intact through 2012 failed to gather the necessary two-thirds majority votes. A simply stunning defeat, with the Republicans firmly in control, much like the Green Bay Packers, oh, wait the Packers won.
Even well-oiled beltway insiders did not foresee this one, with opposition coming from three sides as a coalition of veteran conservative Republicans joined a slew of Democrats and sampling of Tea Party candidates on Tuesday to pull off the equivalent of a stunning upset.
The Republicans saved some face by getting extending a few provisions until nearly the end of 2011. However, the most critical and controversial aspect of the Patriot Act, surveillance tools, many say are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks were not included, which means, at least for now authorities can not use the at will “roving wiretap,” secretly to eavesdrop on any person, without having a warrant in hand.
Following the vote, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) speaking on the House floor, “It was thought that reauthorization would be non-controversial, which is why it was placed under a suspension of the rules, but the fact that it failed to get the two-thirds vote required indicates that it is controversial. This is a surprising development, and it will lead to more debate about the Patriot Act.”
In a written statement, the White House said, President Obama “would strongly prefer” extending the act through 2013, as it “provides for the necessary certainty and predictability that our nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies require.”
This is in sharp contrast to how President Obama felt as a candidate in 2008 when he described much of the Act as “unconstitutional.”
The GOP will bring the bill back up under normal rules before the end of February, and its highly likely it can pass with a simple majority.
(To read more about what was in the Patriot Act extension bill, just click on Rock The Capital.)
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