The House has comfortably passed the Patriot Act reauthorization, 251-174. Infuriatingly, however, AP is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Frist is now talking to the White House about a one-year extension — obviously, because he does not think the votes are there to defeat a filibuster that will very likely garner some key Republican support. AP says:
Facing a threatened filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was talking with White House officials about a one-year extension of the current law without any changes, a senior Republican aide said.
Frist’s action indicated new trouble for making most of the 2001 law’s provisions permanent, a priority for both the Bush administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns for the year.
This is disgraceful. We are at war, the measures involved are eminently reasonable, there is no record of abuse to speak of since Patriot’s passage, and the Republicans have a 55-45 edge in the senate. How can it be that there are not 60 votes to defeat a filibuster? How can it be that there are not at least 70 votes in favor of outright passage of a law more civil-liberties-friendly than the version that won nearly-unanimous support four years ago?
Here’s hoping the White House says no. Don’t give anyone cover. Let’s have a vote. Let’s make the people who are against these important national security measures, in the middle of a war against a savage enemy targeting our civilian population centers, stand up and identify themselves for all to see.