GOP leaders struggling to find votes for Patriot Act extension

A high-profile test looms Thursday when the House Judiciary Committee takes up the legislation and the internal debate among Republicans reveals that the 90-day extension passed in February hasn’t mollified all concerns among some conservatives about the domestic surveillance law…

FBI Director Robert Mueller will give a classified briefing to the House Republican Conference on Friday, outlining the agency’s support for the proposed extension of several contentious provisions of the law. Mueller and U.S. intelligence officials have already met privately with members of the Judiciary panel to discuss the measure, according to several lawmakers.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a stern warning to his fellow lawmakers in a closed conference meeting Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club: Don’t you dare vote no unless you attend Mueller’s briefing and ask your questions…

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, said leadership is “mixing apples and oranges” when they use bin Laden’s death in Pakistan to sell the PATRIOT Act extension, which deals with domestic intelligence. West voted for the last short-term extension, but he declined to say if he’d do so again.