Deserting and embarrassing their GOP House leadership, 26 Republicans--including several members of the Tea Party Caucus--bolted Tuesday night to join Democrats in a surprise rejection of a centerpiece of Bush-era powers to fight terrorism that curbed American civil liberties, National Journal reported.
The House Republican leaders had expected an easy victory in their efforts to reauthorize three expiring powers under the PATRIOT Act--among them, allowing ''roving wiretaps'' and searches of people's medical, banking, and library records. It is likely the GOP will succeed in a later vote, but Tuesday night's rebuff sent a strong message.
By a 277-148 margin, the bill fell just shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House under suspension of the rules, representing somewhat of an embarrassment for House Republicans on a matter of national security. Republicans were accusing Democrats, many of whom had supported the extension of the provisions in the 111th Congress, of hypocrisy.
The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the House's action and urged critics of the PATRIOT Act to push lawmakers to continue to resist efforts to extend the law.
"For the nearly 10 years it has been law, the over-reaching Patriot Act has been abused by law enforcement to violate innocent Americans' privacy," Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's legislative office, said in a statement. "We urge both the House and the Senate to keep up this momentum and continue to fight the extension of these provisions that put Americans' privacy at risk." To read more, click here.