PATRIOT Act renewed by the House
The House of Representatives has endorsed the indefinite extension of key provisions of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act - a.k.a. the USA PATRIOT Act. From NY Times:
House Beats Back Challenges to Patriot Act
WASHINGTON, July 21 - The House voted Thursday to extend permanently virtually all the major antiterrorism provisions of the USA Patriot Act after beating back efforts by Democrats and some Republicans to impose new restrictions on the government's power to eavesdrop, conduct secret searches and demand library records.
The legislation, approved 257 to 171, would make permanent 14 of the 16 provisions in the law that were set to expire at the end of this year. The remaining two provisions - giving the government the power to demand business and library records and to conduct roving wiretaps - would have to be reconsidered by Congress in 10 years.
The House version of the legislation essentially leaves intact many of the central powers of the antiterrorism act that critics had sought to scale back, setting the stage for what could be difficult negotiations with the Senate, which is considering several very different bills to extend the government's counterterrorism powers under the act.
One version, approved unanimously Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would impose greater restrictions on the government's powers.
But a competing bill passed last month by the intelligence committee would broaden the government's powers by allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to demand records in terrorism investigations without a judge's order and to have sole discretion in monitoring the mail of some terrorism suspects. That proposal has the strong backing of the Bush administration.