A bill extending provisions of the Patriot Act that expire this week easily cleared a major hurdle in the Senate on Monday, but it could face delays if Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) decides not to hold votes on proposed changes to the legislation.
Freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a vocal critic of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, threatened Monday to â€œdrag outâ€ the process if Reid fails to hold votes on some of the nine amendments Paul introduced or co-sponsored on Monday. Paul, a libertarian-minded tea-party senator, noted that Reid had promised earlier this year to set aside a weekâ€™s worth of debate on the bill and allow votes on amendments.
â€œWeâ€™re not going to get the week, but weâ€™re working on still trying to get a discussion and amendments to the Patriot Act. â€¦â€ Paul told reporters just off the Senate floor. â€œWeâ€™ll just have to wait and see.â€
When asked whether he would try to delay the bill if heâ€™s denied votes on his amendments, Paul replied: â€œI will make them drag it out if we donâ€™t get some votes, because I was promised votes on amendments and weâ€™ll stand firm on that,â€ adding that heâ€™ll do â€œwhatever it takes.â€
However, Paul doesnâ€™t have the votes to block the bill. All he can really do is hold up final passage of the legislation until the end of the week.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said â€œit remains to be seenâ€ how Senate leaders will handle Paulâ€™s amendments. But she warned against any political maneuvering that would slow down or derail the bill, which grants a four-year extension to key Patriot Act provisions.
â€œI think it would be a huge mistake,â€ Feinstein told reporters. If somebody wants to take on their shoulders not having provisions in place which are necessary to protect the United States at this time, thatâ€™s a big, big weight to bear.â€
Reid spokesman Jon Summers would only say that his boss â€œis talking to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle about the best way to complete this bill in a timely fashion.â€
Mondayâ€™s 74-8 cloture vote opens debate on the bill and sets up another procedural vote in the Senate later this week. Sixty votes were needed to proceed to the bill.
Citing personal privacy concerns, five members of the Democratic caucus voted no: Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both of Montana; Mark Begich of Alaska; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; and Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. Republican Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Paul also voted no.
The legislation is a result of a deal on extending Patriot Act provisions reached between House and Senate leaders last week. The bill renews three provisions, set to expire on Friday, that authorize court-approved roving wiretaps; give the FBI access to library records and anything else considered relevant to a terrorism investigation; and monitor so-called â€œlone wolfâ€ terror suspects.
If the measure clears the Senate, it would still need to pass the House before the provisions lapse.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55547.html#ixzz1NS5Pw182
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