On Second Try, House Passes PATRIOT Act Extension

By John R Parkinson

Feb 14, 2011 7:24pm

ABC News' John R. Parkinson reports:

It took an extra six days, but the House of Representatives has passed a measure Monday evening extending three provisions in the PATRIOT Act set to expire at the end of the month. 

The vote passed by a final tally of 275-144. Twenty-seven Republicans voted against the measure, while 65 Democrats supported its passage. 

The measure extends powers for investigators in national security cases to conduct “roving” wiretaps, to seek certain business records, and to gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group. 

The House-passed bill extends the provisions until December 8, 2011, giving Congress more time to review the impact of the legislation before considering a long-term extension. The Senate has yet to act on the measure.

Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that if the House and Senate fail to come to an agreement to extend the expiring provisions, it could prevent the intelligence needed to stop the next attack from being collected. 

“These types of provisions have been used by domestic law enforcement agencies for years to apprehend typical criminals. It makes no sense to let law enforcement officials use a tool to investigate a drug dealer, but then deny that same authority to intelligence officials investigating terrorists,” Smith, R-Texas, said in a statement Monday evening. “These are common sense provisions that prevent terrorist attacks, protect the American people, and preserve civil liberties.  A temporary extension of these provisions is the only way to provide House Members the time to study the law, hold hearings, consider amendments, and conduct markups. Without an extension of these authorities, we will forfeit our ability to prevent terrorist attacks.” 

Last week, the House failed by a vote of 277-148 to get the two-thirds majority it needed to pass under the rules of suspensions. 

The bill now heads to the Senate, where three different senators – Leahy, Feinstein and Grassley – have introduced three individual bills to extend portions of the PATRIOT Act, complicating the effort for a long-term extension.

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