Congressional leadership from both houses and both parties today reached a deal on a long-term extension of the PATRIOT Act, exactly as worded and without any of the inconvenient civil rights provisions that the Obama Administration has been warning against. The deal would extend an additional four years.
Four years is quite a bit longer than most of the previous House versions of the extension but was quite a bit shorter that Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R – IA) call for the bill to be eternal as well as completely free of oversight. So far the indications are the lack of oversight will rule the day, guaranteeing that the Obama Administration won’t grouse or threaten vetoes.
And while this deal seems to suit the leadership of both parties just fine, that has increasingly not been enough to guarantee passage of such measures. Indeed, the House failed to extend the PATRIOT Act by 10 months in February in the face of significant opposition from both parties, and in particular a number of freshmen.
The current extension of the three most controversial provisions of the act, including the ability to target people with no ties to any terror organization and the ability to secure library and bookstore records without due process, would expire on May 27. The Senate promises a vote next week. The House of Representatives has not given a date for the vote.