Blog of Rights

And Now, To The Senate!

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 9:28pm

If you can’t get the two-thirds vote necessary to pass controversial legislation, do you a) scrap the bill and go back to the drawing board; b) provide time for debate and good-faith amendments to the bill; or c) lower the vote threshold so that the bill passes despite the doubts of your colleagues?

Well, House leadership chose c), and thus the House caved. I’m not sure if it’s a consolation that the House leadership had to change the rules of the game to make it happen. On Feb. 8, House leadership brought up a Patriot Act extension on suspension, and, thanks in large part to your activism, it failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to pass. So, today, after perfunctory debate and no opportunities for amendment (save the obligatory Motion to Recommit afforded the minority party), House leadership brought up the extension for a simple majority vote. And thus, the Patriot extension through December 8, 2011 passed the House. You can see how your member of Congress voted here. Be sure to tell your representative how you feel about his/her vote. (You can reach him/her through the Capitol Switchboard – (202) 224-3121.)
 
So, now we’re onward and upward (or possibly downward?) to the Senate. It will likely come as no surprise to you that the Senate’s options are not bad, worse, worst, and House: The first bill pending in the Senate would reauthorize the expiring provisions until 2013 with some minimal improvements; the second would simply extend the current provisions until 2013; and the worst would make the expiring provisions permanent – of course, the Senate could also take up the House bill. A little birdie has told us that the Senate will hotline (aka attempt to pass the through the unanimous consent of all Senators) option number worse (extension until 2013 with no changes) this week. Well, that’s your cue. We held up Patriot Act reauthorization in the House. Now we need to tell the Senate that none of its options are viable, that it needs to go back to the drawing board and bring us some legislation that provides sensible safeguards to protect the rights of everyday people who have nothing to do with terrorism. Go to our Action Center to take action now!

 

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