Senate Temporarily Extends Patriot Act Provisions

The Senate is “expected to pass a short term extension of the PATRIOT Act this week, ahead of the February 28 deadline for renewing several expiring provisions in the post-September 11 counterterrorism surveillance legislation,” Fox News reports.

“We’re talking about a 90-day extension in order to give us time to bring it up for full debate on the floor. Obviously, we don’t have time to do that this week,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga, told Fox. The senator, top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said, “I have no qualms with doing that. It gives everybody time to come up and say what they want to.”

This Senate action, which would then need to be approved by the House which initially had trouble from some Tea Party conservatives and liberal Democrats but eventually approved an extension to December, extends so-called court-approved “lone-wolf” surveillance of non-U.S. citizens suspected of terrorist activity, roving wiretaps for foreign suspects with multiple cell phones, and government seizure of “any tangible item” deemed relevant to a national security investigation, or the so-called “library records” provision.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Intelligence panel’s chairwoman, said, “It would extend it to May, giving us time. It’s very important that we extend it.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) “told reporters Tuesday that he would support a 90-day extension.”

Meanwhile, a “senior Senate Democratic leadership aide said [Kentucky Republican Senator Rand] Paul objected to members trying to pass the extension by unanimous consent, a move that usually indicates a member intends to filibuster.”

Update: Senators have adopted this temporary extension by a vote of 86-12. It extends expiring provisions through May 27 of this year. The extension is attached to H.R. 514 and must now be approved by the House. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised to offer members at least a week for debate and amendment-offering on a more lengthy extension prior to this temporary one running out.

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