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House Passes Patriot Act; Bush To Sign

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Primarily on party lines, the House of Representatives renewed the Patriot Act on Tuesday; 16 provisions of the law enacted shortly after 9-11 were set to sunset on Friday. President Bush is expected to sign the bill before Friday; he has not vetoed a single bill in the five years of his Presidency.

The vote (280-138) to suspend House rules required a two-thirds majority. AP reports that the close vote “caught senior Republican aides in both chambers by surprise.”

Republicans voting “yes” numbered 214, and Democrats, 66. Democrats voting “no” numbered 124, and Republicans, 13. The lone Independent (Sanders) also voted no; 14 Representatives did not vote.

The 13 dissident Republicans are Bartlett (MD), Bishop (UT), Duncan (TN), Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), Lucas (OK), Mack (FL), Manzullo (IL), Otter (ID), Oxley (OH), Paul (TX), Rohrabacher (CA) and Young (AK).

The 66 acquiescent Democrats are Andrews (NJ), Baird (WA), Barrow (SC), Bean (IL), Berry (AR), Bishop (GA),
Bishop (NY), Boren (OK), Boswell (IA), Boyd (FL), Cardin (MD), Cardoza (CA), Carnahan (MO), Case (HI), Chandler (KY), Cooper (TN), Cramer (AL), Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Dicks (WA), Edwards (TX), Emanuel (IL), Etheridge (NC), Ford (TN), Green (Gene, TX), Harman (CA), Herseth (SD), Higgins (NY), Holden (PA), Hoyer (MD), Israel (NY), Kanjorski (PA), Kaptur (OH), Kind (WI), Langevin (RI), Larsen (WA), Levin (MI), Lipinski (IL), Marshall (GA), Matheson (UT), McCarthy (NY), McIntyre (NC), Melancon (LA), Miller (NC), Moore (KS), Murtha (PA), Ortiz (TX), Pascrell (NJ), Pomeroy (ND), Ross (AR), Rothman (NJ), Ruppersberger (MD), Salazar (CO), Schwartz (PA), Scott (GA), Sherman (CA), Skelton (MO), Smith (WA), Snyder (AR), Spratt (SC), Strickland (OH), Udall (CO), Van Hollen (MD) and Wynn (MD).

The bill will make it “easier for federal agents to secretly tap phones, obtain library and bank records, and search homes of terrorism suspects.” The Senate approved (89-10) the measure, H.R. 3199 Conference Report, last week.

Senators voting “no”: Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Byrd (D-WV), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Jeffords (I-VT), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Murray (D-WA) and Wyden (D-OR).

One of the reasons the law was originally set to expire in late 2005 was for Congressional review of “expanded FBI authority.” Obviously, none of the “yes” votes read “Spy Talk” columnist for Congressional Quarterly Jeff Stein’s analysis of a “clunky, antiquated” FBI information system “where access to even Google is difficult or impossible, where analysts lack even simple e-mail alerts or RSS feeds of new case data.”

Despite controversy over NSA wiretaps — information released by the New York Times in late 2005 (after the paper had sat on the story for a year) — this measure makes permanent all but three provisions of the law.

According to Capitol Hill Blue, a little-known provision (that has nothing to do with anti-terrorism) will require Americans to show ID to purchase cold/allergy medicine after 30 September. This is an effort to reduce production of methamphetamine.

Prior Coverage:
Patriot Act Gets One-Month Extension,
Bipartisan Group Blocks Patriot Act Renewal,
Roll Call Vote – Cloture – Patriot Act Extension,

Bush to Congress: Renew Patriot Act

Analysis:
Why Proposal to Reauthorize, Expand Is “Unnecessary and, In Some Respects, Dangerous” (2005);
Challenge to “National Security Letter” Authority (2004) ;
Libraries and National Security: A Historical Review (2004) ;
Analysis of the Justice Department’s PATRIOT Act Website (2003) ;
Assessing the New Normal: Liberty and Security for the Post-September 11 United States (2003) ;
EFF Analysis As It Relates To Online Activities (2003) ;
Should you be scared of the Patriot Act? (2003) ;
Congressional Research Service Legal Analysis (2002, pdf) ; and Patriot Act: Last Refuge of a Scoundrel (2002)

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