What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Government Surveillance of Citizens : (S. 990) Final passage of legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Those provisions included allowing the federal government to wiretap terrorism suspects, authorizing intelligence officials to conduct surveillance of individuals who are not known to be affiliated with terrorist groups (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and providing federal investigators—after receiving permission from a judge—with access to business and library records).
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(S. 990) Final passage of legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Those provisions included allowing the federal government to wiretap terrorism suspects, authorizing intelligence officials to conduct surveillance of individuals who are not known to be affiliated with terrorist groups (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and providing federal investigators—after receiving permission from a judge—with access to business and library records).
house Roll Call 376     May 26, 2011
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

This was a vote on final passage of legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Those provisions included allowing the federal government to wiretap terrorism suspects, authorizing intelligence officials to conduct surveillance of individuals who are not known to be affiliated with terrorist groups (known as the “lone wolf” provision), and providing federal investigators—after receiving permission from a judge—with access to business and library records).

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) urged support for the bill: “The Patriot Act provisions continue to play a vital role in America's counterterrorism efforts not only to prevent another large-scale attack but also to combat an increasing number of smaller terrorist plots. Earlier this year, a 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia was arrested in my home state of Texas for attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. Khalid Aldawsari attempted to purchase chemicals to construct a bomb against targets including the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush, several dams in Colorado and California, and the homes of three former military guards who served in Iraq. Information obtained through a section 215 business records order was essential in thwarting this plot. Make no mistake, the threat from terrorists and spies is real. These provisions are vital to our intelligence investigations, and they are effective.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) also supported the bill: “These three provisions have stopped countless potential attacks and play a critical role in helping ensure law enforcement officials have the tools they need to keep our country safe.
The death of Osama bin Laden proves that American intelligence gathering is vital to our national security. The fight against terrorism, however, did not die with bin Laden, and neither did the need for the PATRIOT Act. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) opposed the bill: “Surveillance of an individual who concededly is not working with a foreign government or with a terrorist organization is not normally what we understand as foreign intelligence. There may be many good reasons for government to keep tabs on such an individual, but there is no reason to suspend all our normal laws under the pretext that this is a foreign intelligence operation….I realize that the Republican majority has the votes to extend these expiring authorities, but I am proud to stand with my colleagues of both parties in opposition to the flippant and reckless way in which our liberties are being treated today.”

Rep. Earl Bluemenauer (D-OR) also opposed the bill: “ today I will vote against an extension of the PATRIOT Act because Congress should be refining and narrowing the scope of the Act, not extending it as-is, until 2015. There are real concerns on both sides of the aisle about granting the federal government too much power with little to no mechanisms for oversight by Congress. We are missing an opportunity in the House for bipartisan reform by rushing this extension to the floor. It's time for a more accountable approach that balances individual privacy with our national defense. Our intelligence community has the tools necessary to keep us safe without compromising our privacy. This hasty four-year extension is disappointing because the Act could be more effective if it included the auditing requirements for which many in Congress have advocated.”

The House passed this bill by a vote of 250-153. Voting “yea” were 196 Republicans and 54 Democrats. 122 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 31 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation extending expiring provisions of a controversial government surveillance law known as the “Patriot Act” for four years. Since the Senate had already passed this bill, House passage enabled President Obama to sign it into law.


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