Surprise: Vote to extend three Patriot Act provisions fails in House

posted at 9:02 pm on February 8, 2011 by Allahpundit

A bit embarrassing for Boehner insofar as this was expected to be a slam dunk. So much so, in fact, that they used a fast-track procedure to bring it to the floor, which required a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority.

What could go wrong?

Nine freshmen and three inaugural members of the House Tea Party Caucus cast votes against a proposed extension of three Patriot Act provisions Tuesday night, helping block the measure from passage under fast-track rules…

Those [Republicans] who voted no Tuesday night included Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), Paul Broun (Ga.) and Walter B. Jones (N.C.), all of whom were original members of the House Tea Party Caucus when it was founded last summer.

And nine [Republican] freshmen also voted no: Justin Amash (Mich.), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Christopher P. Gibson (N.Y.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Raul R. Labrador (Idaho), Robert Schilling (Ill.), David Schweikert (Ariz.) and Rob Woodall (Ga.).

Here’s the full roll. The bill failed 277-148, just seven votes shy of passage, with fully 26 Republicans voting no. Like Weigel says, the media narrative tomorrow will be that the tea party killed it, but plenty of TP heavyweights (Bachmann, Allen West, etc.) were in the majority. And the bill will end up passing, of course. They’ll simply bring it back to the floor, which Lamar Smith is vowing to do later this week, and vote on it under normal slow-track rules, which will give opponents the chance to offer amendments but will assure passage per today’s heavy majority in favor.

The three provisions, incidentally, were for surveillance of non-citizens, roving wiretaps of multiple phones owned by a suspect, and the “library records” provision giving the FBI access to, among other things, medical and business records, which apparently was the sticking point for many Republicans voting no. Those three will lapse at the end of the month unless they’re extended; as with the Bush tax cuts, because the issue is contentious, Congress is in perpetual “temporary” extension mode instead of reaching a permanent resolution on any of them. Frankly, if there’s any tea party angle to all this, it’s that there wasn’t more opposition among the GOP freshmen: After months of rhetoric about government intrusion and hand-wringing on both sides about Obama’s expansion of Bush’s counterterror powers — to the point where U.S. citizens like Awlaki are now marked for death by presidential decree — they had some political cover to draw the line on extending parts of the Patriot Act further if they wanted to. (Ron Paul was among the 26 no’s, of course.) Nope.


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