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WASHINGTON – The House tonight passed a 10-month extension of three troublesome Patriot Act provisions that are set to expire at the end of this month. The House attempted to pass the extension last week but failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to do so. After the House changed procedural rules on the legislation following last week’s vote, the vote threshold was lowered to a simple majority.
The bill, introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), will now head to the Senate for a vote.
The Senate currently has three bills of its own pending. The first bill, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), would mandate enhanced oversight of Patriot Act surveillance authorities but still allow the problematic sections to remain in effect. The second bill, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would extend the provisions for three more years. The third bill, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would make the three provisions permanent.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office:
“Despite its show of strength earlier this week, the House has voted to reauthorize these Patriot Act provisions yet again without any added safeguards for Americans’ privacy. Punting this critical issue further down the road is a mistake. We urge the Senate to reject this bill and instead make the necessary changes that will bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution.”
The following can be attributed to Michelle Richardson, ACLU legislative counsel:
“It has been nearly a decade since the Patriot Act was passed and our lawmakers still refuse to make any meaningful changes to this reactionary law. The right to privacy from government is a cornerstone of our country’s foundation and Americans must be free from the kind of unwarranted government surveillance that the Patriot Act allows. If Congress cannot take the time to insert the much needed privacy safeguards the Patriot Act needs, it should allow these provisions to expire.”
To learn more about the Patriot Act and the ACLU’s work to reform it, go to: www.reformthepatriotact.org