Bipartisan resistance stops PATRIOT Act in the House

January 2011 Patriot Award Winner: Thomas Nephew
January 23, 2011
Demand JUSTICE, not the PATRIOT Act
February 11, 2011

This evening, under special rules requiring a 2/3 majority to pass a bill without allowing amendments, the House majority fell seven votes short of reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. In what The Washington Post called “a vote that served as the first small uprising of the [Republican] party’s tea-party bloc,” a bipartisan populist bloc of 26 Republicans joined 122 Democrats to cast 148 votes against the bill authored by James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), which would have extended the expiring provisions through the end of the year. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee applauds today’s transpartisan allegiance among members of Congress who—unlike their 277 counterparts who voted for the Sensenbrenner bill (including 210 Republicans and 67 Democrats)—recalled their oaths to defend the Constitution today. Resisting pressure from the White House, intelligence agencies and many leaders across Washington, these congressional representatives bucked  the establishment and asserted Congress’ responsibility to check and balance the executive branch. In the coming days, BORDC will launch a coalition effort calling for transformative changes to the PATRIOT Act, as well as intelligence authorities embedded in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.  The JUSTICE Act, which gained the support of seven senators last year, would restore various protections for privacy across a range of government programs. Subscribe to BORDC’s action alerts to receive an update later this week.