A week after suffering a humiliating defeat, House Republican leaders took a new tack and made a bunch of promises to rank-and-file lawmakers to secure enough votes to pass a marquee national security bill tonight.
A bill to reauthorize three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until December 8 passed the House by a 275-144 vote. The legislative focus turns immediately to the Senate, as the provisions expire on Feb. 28.
GOP leaders were embarrassed last week when they failed to muster enough votes to pass the bill under suspension of the rules. Changing tactics, they brought the bill up for a vote tonight under a closed rule, meaning no amendments were allowed and a simple majority was needed to pass it.
Republicans corralled enough votes by promising their members that time will be allotted over the next 10 months to consider making changes to the provisions. Many Democrats, and some Republicans, argue reforms are needed in order to ensure the government is not abusing its powers or violating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.
The three expiring provisions give the government the ability to use roving wiretaps to monitor the communications of suspects; obtain special court orders forcing businesses to turn over records; and conduct surveillance on a so-called “lone wolf,” or somebody who is not knowingly associated with terrorists.