John (worldxeater) wrote in paleocon,

Washington - The House voted Thursday to extend the USA Patriot Act, the nation's main anti-terrorism tool, just hours after televisions in the Capitol beamed images of a new attack in London.

As similar legislation worked its way through the Senate, House Republicans generally cast the law as a valuable asset in the war on terrorism.

Most Democrats echoed that support but said they were concerned the law could allow citizens' civil liberties to be infringed. The House approved the measure 257-171, after nine hours of debate.

Colorado's House delegation split along party lines, with Democrats Diana DeGette, John Salazar and Mark Udall voting against the measure. Republicans Bob Beauprez, Joel Hefley, Marilyn Musgrave and Tom Tancredo voted for it.

The bulk of the back-and- forth centered on language making permanent 14 of 16 provisions that had four-year sunset, or expiration, provisions under the original law, which Congress passed overwhelmingly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The bill also proposed 10-year extensions to provisions set to expire on Dec. 31, one allowing roving wiretaps and another allowing searches of library and medical records.

"While the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism initiatives have helped avert additional attacks on our soil, the threat has not receded," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the committee, said that while "I support the majority of the 166 provisions of the Patriot Act," the extensions could lessen accountability. "Ten years is not a sunset; 10 years is semi-permanent," he said.

As the House debated the legislation, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved its own version of the bill, though it included only four-year extensions for the roving wiretap and records search provisions.

A competing bill approved by the intelligence committee would give the FBI expanded powers to subpoena records without the approval of a judge or grand jury. That ensured further Senate talks on the terrorism-fighting measure.

cross posted
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