Patriot Act clears its House speed-bump

PATRIOT ACT CLEARS ITS HOUSE SPEED-BUMP…. Last week, the House Republican leadership brought up the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, assuming it would quickly clear the chamber. It didn’t go well — a contingent of Republicans balked and the bill fell short of the two-thirds majority it needed at the time.

Late yesterday, the House GOP had more success.

The House on Monday voted to reauthorize and extend through Dec. 8 three ways in which Congress expanded the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism powers after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Last week, an effort to extend these provisions of the so-called Patriot Act and a related intelligence law failed to pass after falling just short of the two-thirds’ majority needed under a special rule. On Monday, however, the bill was able to pass with only a simple majority — and it did so, 275 to 144.

Looking at the roll call, 27 Republicans broke party ranks and opposed the measure, and 65 Democrats did the opposite. In general, most Republicans supported Patriot Act reauthorization, and most Democrats opposed it. This is nearly identical to last week’s vote totals, but this time, only a simple majority was needed for passage.

There was, incidentally, an interesting motion to recommit from House Democrats.

Every Member of Congress takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. While Members of Congress are all united in their commitment to protect our country against its enemies, they should be equally united to uphold the Constitution.

Today, Democrats offered a motion to recommit on legislation to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act to ensure that PATRIOT Act powers are not used to violate the Constitutional freedoms and protections guaranteed to all Americans. The motion included two parts:

No Constitutional shortcuts. When investigating American citizens, the government must comply with the Constitution, even in national security investigations

Challenging unconstitutional action. If a citizen challenges the government’s use of PATRIOT Act power in a court of law, the case must be expedited to ensure the individual’s rights are upheld.

A total of two House Republicans — Texas’ Ron Paul and North Carolina’s Walter Jones — voted for this, while 234 did not.