Despite the valiant efforts of liberty-defending congresspersons from both political parties, the House of Representatives has just this evening passed an extension of the three USA PATRIOT Act surveillance powers that were set to "sunset" at the end of February, by a vote of 275 to 144. Now, the Senate is our last hope to stop PATRIOT renewal and obtain meaningful PATRIOT reform. The Senate is expected to vote on a PATRIOT renewal bill this week, so contact your Senators today and urge them to vote NO on the PATRIOT Act!
Of the 144 votes against the House bill, 26 came from Republicans, who argued that the law's broad surveillance powers constitute a big government intrusion into the lives of private citizens. For example, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher said:
I believe the American people have a legitimate fear of out-of-control government. And yes, they have a legitimate fear of out-of-control prosecutors and out-of-control spy networks.
Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia added:
I do not accept the argument that in order to be safe it's necessary to give up our rights and freedoms.
Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith insisted that the House's extension of the expiring PATRIOT provisions until December 8, 2010 was "the only way to provide House members the time to study the law" and consider changes. Of course, that's exactly what Congressional leaders said in February 2010, the last time Congress renewed PATRIOT. Don't let it happen again: contact your Senators now to oppose PATRIOT renewal and demand PATRIOT reform!