WASHINGTON — Advocates of rewriting the USA Patriot Act are claiming momentum after the House, despite a White House veto threat, voted to restrict investigators from using the anti-terrorism law to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.
Wednesday’s 238-187 vote came as lawmakers ramped up efforts to extend the Patriot Act, which was passed quickly in the emotional aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. When Congress passed the law, it included a sunset provision under which 15 of the its provisions are to expire at the end of this year.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday that weakening of the act could draw a veto from President Bush, who pressured Congress to renew all provisions of the law during a visit with Ohio police in Columbus last week.
The Justice Department said in a letter to lawmakers that as of March 30, federal investigators had not used the Patriot Act to obtain library or bookstore records but that the authority provides “an important tool for investigating and intercepting terrorism.”
Last year, a similar provision was derailed by a 210-210 tie after several Republicans were pressured to switch votes.
While I support getting rid of this particular part of the USA Patriot Act, I am generally supportive of the it, as a whole.
However, this is something ya’ll can argue about in the Comments Section below.
What I am interested in is the complete lack of influence President Bush has over Congress now that he’s been re-elected.
He can’t get anything done on Social Security. The proposed Energy bills in the House and Senate are hardly what he was asking for. And now the USA Patriot Act is about to be watered down, despite his veto threat. (Of course, Bush’s veto threats have thus far been meaningless, since he has refused to veto a single bill during his presidency.)
Is he really a “lame duck” already? I know Congress already has an eye towards the 2006 elections, but still.
Can we really expect another three and a half years of a Republican President demanding one thing, and a Republican-dominated House and Senate doing something else?
What the hell is the point of one-party control if they can’t agree on anything?