Friday, November 18, 2005

Patriot Act Reauth May Draw Filibuster

House and Senate negotiators were close, but not close enough, to reaching agreement Thursday on reauthorization of the Patriot Act, many portions of which will expire at the end of this year unless extended. The two chambers' versions of the reauthorization bill differ widely, and several senators, from both parties, threatened to filibuster any conference report which does not contain "further civil rights safeguards that were seen as unacceptable to House leaders."

Six senators from across the political spectrum (Republicans Craig, Sununu, and Murkowski; Democrats Durbin, Salazar, and Feingold) signed a letter on Thursday stating that a tentative deal on the reauthorization bill was inadequate in "making reasonable changes to the original law to protect innocent people from unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance."

The Senate passed its version of the reauthorization bill unanimously back in July. It was the right approach then, and it remains so now. Senators from both parties should insist on the provisions in their version of the bill, and if the House does not agree, then a filibuster could be the appropriate response.


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