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House approves Patriot Act extension, sending it to Obama

February 17, 2011

The Washington Post, 17 Feb 2011: The House on Thursday passed a 90-day extension of key provisions of the Patriot Act counterterrorism surveillance law, sending the measure on to President Obama for his signature.

The measure passed on a vote of 279 to 143. It extends three provisions of the law until May 27, a compromise reached by congressional leaders to give lawmakers more time to consider re-authorizing them for a longer period of time.

Thursday’s House vote came two days after the Senate passed the short-term extension on a bipartisan vote; it also came a week after an initial House effort to fast-track the extension fell seven votes short of passage in an unanticipated embarrassment for House Republican leaders. Thursday’s vote was nearly identical to the initial vote in the House last week, when 277 lawmakers backed the measure and 148 opposed it.

The three Patriot Act provisions — dealing with roving wiretaps, “lone wolf” terrorism suspects and the government’s ability to seize “any tangible items” in the course of surveillance – were set to expire Feb. 28 if Congress did not act to extend them.

The White House said last week that it “would strongly prefer” an extension of the provisions until 2013 but would not object to a shorter-term extension.



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