A measure that would have extended three key provision of the Patriot Act past Feb. 28, 2011 failed to clear the House as more than a two-dozen Republicans broke ranks and voted against reauthorization. The measure came up for a vote via expedited procedure that allowed for just 40 minutes of debate and no amendments. That procedure also requires 2/3 of the House to vote in favor of the bill to pass.
The vote may be the first example of the kind of power the Tea Party can wield within the GOP as a similar bill is also struggling in the Senate.
But the measure is far from defeated. The extension is set to come back to the floor for another vote using standard rules, likely within the next few days. Under the standard rules only a simple majority is required for passage. Since extension failed by only 13 votes, its likely to pass when it comes up again.
The key provisions that are set to expire are the use of roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; a provision that allows the government to access “any tangible items” such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third is the “lone wolf” provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act that allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.
For conservatives, this vote was in many ways a moment of truth for those who ran on a libertarian-conservative platform. By rejecting the extension they showed fidelity to those libertarian roots and deserve credit for sticking to those principles. They also separated themselves from the more authoritarian-conservative strains in the GOP, setting up an interesting power struggle that could very well shape the 2012 cycle.
photo courtesy of Jamiesrabbits via Flickr