Patriot Act Extension Fails in House

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By Matt Welch

Almost no chance it'll stick, but that's the gist of this report:

The newly-minted House Republican leadership botched a vote Tuesday night when it presumed it had the necessary support to reauthorize the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism law imposed after September 11th.

The GOP expected little trouble with the bill. So Republicans brought the Patriot Act to the floor under a special procedure that requires a two-thirds vote for passage. It's a maneuver that's typically reserved for non-controversial legislation or bills that carry wide support.

Renewing that Patriot Act had certainly had wide support. 277 members voted in favor of the measure compared to just 148 nays.

But that's short of the two-thirds supermajority. Which means the House defeated the bill.

With 425 members voting, 284 yea votes were necessary to cross the two-thirds threshold for passage. 26 Republicans voted against renewing the law.

"Look at the 'Don't Tread on Me flag.' It doesn't say don't tread on me, but it's okay if you spy," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), one of the most ardent opponents of the Patriot Act. "What the Republican leadership didn't count on is that they have some new members who are freshmen who are conservative, libertarian, who really do believe in civil liberties."

Eight Republicans whom the GOP regards as freshmen voted against the reauthorization. That's precisely the number of yea votes Republicans needed to pass the bill.

Wow. No word yet on the freshman defectors. But before you get your hopes up:

It's unclear when the House will take the mulligan and try to pass the bill again. With 277 votes in favor of reauthorizing the Patriot Act, there is enough support to approve the bill under the traditional system that requires only a simple majority for passage.

on the PATRIOT Act here.


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