( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
26 Republicans voted against their party today, contributing to the defeat of the House Bill that would have extended provisions of the controversial Patriot Act, which are due to expire at the end of February.
House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party’s tea-party bloc.
The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.
More after the jump.
The provisions of the Patriot act in question are:
1. Authorize the FBI to use roving wiretaps on surveillance targets;
2. Allow the government to access “any tangible items,” such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and
3. Allow for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.
While President Obama supports the extension of these provisions, the vast majority of the opposition has come from House Democrats, who continue to complain that the Patriot Act represents an unacceptable intrusion into civil liberties gauranteed by the US Constitution.
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has presented an occasionally lonely opposition to the Patriot Act, said that Tuesday’s vote demonstrated that he now had company from more than two dozen Republicans who support the Bill of Rights. “The Patriot Act represents the undermining of civil liberties,” Kucinich said after the vote. Republicans “brought [the bill] forward not knowing the votes.”
House leaders rejected that analysis. “Democrats in Congress voted to deny their own administration’s request for key weapons in the war on terror,” said Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
This does not mean the end of the Patriot Act or even these select setions of it. House Republican leaders are already preparing to find a way to pass the measures with only a simple majority instead of a super majority, and the Senate is considering its own approach to the question as well.
But as February 28 draws near, watch for this debate to get a lot more heated.