House Fails To Re-Authorize Key PATRIOT Act Provisions

By all accounts, this is a surprise:

A measure to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act counterterrorism surveillance law through December failed the House Tuesday night, with more than two-dozen Republicans bucking their party to oppose the measure.

The House measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and required a two-thirds majority for passage, failed on a 277-to-148 vote. Twenty-six Republicans voted with 122 Democrats to oppose the measure, while 67 Democrats voted with 210 Republicans to back it. Ten members did not vote.

The measure would have extended three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire on Monday, Feb. 28, unless Congress moves to reauthorize them. One of the provisions authorizes the FBI to continue using roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access “any tangible items,” such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third is a “lone wolf” provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act that allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

The vote came as several tea party-aligned members of the new freshman class had been expressing doubts about the measure.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who highlighted his opposition to the law during his upstart 2010 Senate campaign, signaled Monday that he may vote ultimately vote against an extension when the measure comes up in the Senate, likely later this month.

“I’ve had a lot of reservations about the Patriot Act,” Paul said when asked whether he’s leaning toward voting for an extension. “We’re reviewing it and we’re going over it, and we will have something out probably in the next couple of days,” he added. “We won’t be shy about it when it comes out.”

Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), was among the trio of Republican lawmakers who opposed the Patriot Act when the House approved it in October 2001.

In all likelihood, the House leadership will be able to bring this bill back up in the near future under normal order and get it passed. Nonetheless. it’s good to see some of the newly election Republicans standing up to their party. and standing for civil liberties.

FILED UNDER: Congress, National Security, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. mantis says:

    Nonetheless. it’s good to see some of the newly election Republicans standing up to their party. and standing for civil liberties.

    From what do you draw this conclusion?

  2. jeff says:

    “The Patriot Act”…

    You see, as long as you name something correctly, fighting against it is tantamount to treason… fight against the “Patriot Act” you say??? unthinkable… why not be a true patriot and go along with it…LOL

    You have to admire the ability of the U.S. Government to get it’s own people to line up and throw their constitutional rights and civil liberties in the toilet, especially with something as simple as a red-white-and-blue label.

    I wonder if we’d a ?

  3. mantis says:

    Ok, I took a look at who voted no on this. You’ve got 25 no votes from Republicans (11 more than for the original act). Eight of those are from the new class of 63.

    The 2010 Freshmen No Votes
    Justin Amash
    Chris Gibson
    Tom Graves
    Randy Hultgren
    Raul Labrador
    Bobby Schilling
    David Schweikert
    Rob Woodall

    Now these guys voted no in 2005, and stayed consistent:
    Roscoe Bartlett
    Rob Bishop
    John Duncan
    Tim Johnson
    Connie Mack
    Tom McClintock
    Ron Paul
    Dana Rohrabacher
    Don Young

    And these four were elected in 2006 or 2008 (I’m not sure if any have stated how they would have voted in 2005)
    Paul Broun
    John Campbell
    Dean Heller
    Phil Roe

    The interesting ones to me are the four who voted yes for the original act:
    Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8)
    Walter Jones (NC-3)
    Jack Kingston (GA-1)
    Kenny Marchant (TX-24)

    Why the change of heart, fellas? Terrorism all defeated, then? Or could it be because the other party controls the Executive now?

    Anyway, about 10.3% of House Republicans voted no, while about 12.6% of the new class voted no. Not exactly evidence that the new 2010 crop is any different from the rest.

  4. RWB says:

    What do you know, we did elect some real conservatives last time!

  5. Trumwill says:

    That’s a great rundown, Mantis. Thank you for doing the legwork.

  6. Axel Edgren says:


  7. Hello World! says:

    None the less – this is good news. I applaud my tea-party opposites.

  8. Muffler says:

    Lets stop associating the word conservatives to the GOP or Tea Party. They are Republicans and Tea Party People. No where have I seen any acts of conservative behavior in the last 30 years. Let’s start using the correct terms!

  9. sam says:

    I read they’re bringing back under a closed rule and asking only for a majority vote.

    So much all the bullshit about changing the way, etc. Wonder what those TP frosh who voted against it will think of that?