Senate Majority Votes for Extension of Patriot Act, Bill Fails
The United States Senate voted 52-47 to extend the several provisions of the USA PATRIOT act that are slated to expire at the end of the year. For procedural reasons, the bill nonetheless failed to pass.
The Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the USA Patriot Act as infringing too much on Americans’ privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders. In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill’s Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.
President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republicans congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent, and add new safeguards and expiration dates to the two most controversial parts: roving wiretaps and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.
Feingold, Craig and other critics said that wasn’t enough, and have called for the law to be extended in its present form so they can continue to try and add more civil liberties safeguards. But Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have said they won’t accept a short-term extension of the law.
If a compromise is not reached, the 16 Patriot Act provisions expire on Dec. 31.
My guess is that a compromise will indeed be reached, modifying or casting aside the few truly controversial provisions.
Update: WaPo’s summary makes more sense:
Backers of a proposed four-year extension of the USA Patriot Act failed to shut off Senate debate today, preventing a vote on the matter and dealing a setback to President Bush on a major issue involving anti-terrorism efforts and civil liberties. The Democratic-led filibuster drew enough Republican support to keep the president’s allies from gaining the 60 votes needed to end debate in the 100-member chamber. The 52-47 vote will require the White House and congressional leaders to seek another way to deal with the scheduled Dec. 31 expiration of key aspects of the law.
So, rather than a “threatened filibuster” what we had was an actual filibuster and rather than rejecting the PATRIOT Act, the Senate failed to invoke cloture. There was no vote on the Act itself.