April 19, 2018

Compromise Rejected, Patriot Act Extended Until February 3 for Debate

By LJ Staff

In what the Los Angeles Times termed ‘a major setback for the White House,’ the Senate on December 21 passed a six-month extension of the USA PATRIOT Act rather than renew the law according to a previously crafted House-Senate compromise. The next day, however, the House of Representatives agreed to extend the passage for only five weeks, until February 3, 2006. Said House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in a statement, ‘A key reason given for agreeing to last night’s Senate deal was that Senators needed more time to fully debate the conference report.’ The extension leaves time for further debate about controversial provisions criticized by the library community, civil liberties advocates, and a near-majority of Senators who were willing to sustain a filibuster to block the law’s renewal. "The White House…couldn’t break the filibuster, couldn’t break the bipartisan group," said Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-WI). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) had previously said he would not agree to a temporary extension. One influence on the extension: the New York Times‘s December 16 report that, after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush had authorized the wiretapping of numerous Americans without seeking warrants from the secret court charged with handling terrorism cases.