The House today failed to extend the life of three surveillance tools that are key to the Patriot Act. Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority, and they fell seven votes short. Twenty-six Republicans voted against the measure, along with 122 Democrats. Supporters say the three measures are vital to preventing another terrorist attack, but critics—notably Dennis Kucinich—say they infringe on civil liberties and appealed to the Tea Party sentiments of new Republicans.
The Patriot Act bill would have renewed the authority for court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. Also addressed was the so-called library records provision that gives the FBI court-approved access to "any tangible thing" relevant to a terrorism investigation. The third deals with the "lone-wolf" provision of a 2004 anti-terror law that permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-US people not known to be affiliated with a specific terrorist organization. (Read more Patriot Act stories.)