The House of Representatives narrowly averted allowing the US Patriot Act to expire, abandoning all the proposed privacy provisions to the bill and approving it exactly as worded by the Senate in a vote earlier this week. Parts of Patriot Act would have expired Sunday, but passed through the Senate without debate.
The vote, incredibly enough titled the “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act,” passed 315-97. The bill was so named because Senate Democrats inserted the Patriot Act’s extension into a Medicare reform bill.
Three sections of the Patriot Act were to “sunset” this year, including the roving wiretap provision, the library records seizure provision, and the “lone wolf” provision, which permitted surveillance against possible terrorists even if there was no evidence tying them to any terror organization.
The Obama Administration had expressed concern about the addition of civil rights protections to the bill, but said they would consider them so long as they didn’t weaken the president’s powers. In the end such consideration will be unneccesary, because the neither the House nor the Senate saw fit to include any protections at all.