Patriot Act Facts
Last night, despite a strong majority vote in favor of the bill, the House of Representatives fell seven votes short of the two-thirds they needed to suspend the rules and pass three key counterterrorism amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Many of the headlines you will read today will say things like “Patriot Act Extension Fails in House,” but the reality is that much of the PATRIOT Act was already permanently enacted. Of the three amendments to FISA at issue in last night’s vote, two were part of the original PATRIOT Act, one was part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and all are set to expire at the end of this month.
Eight of the 26 Republican no votes came from freshmen who, Politico reports, “felt completely uniformed by their leadership.” Representative Todd Rokita (R–IN), who voted for the bill, even told Politico that he “didn’t know anything about [the vote] until today.” The three amendments voted on last night have been extensively modified over the years and now include significant new safeguards, including substantial court oversight.