Wednesday, December 21, 2005
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer - 16 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The Senate neared passage of a six-month extension of the USA Patriot Act Wednesday night, hoping to avoid the expiration of law enforcement powers deemed vital to the war on terror.
It is unclear when the House would act on the bill.
The agreement capped several days of backroom negotiation conducted against the backdrop of presidential attacks on critics of the legislation. The Patriot Act provisions will expire Dec. 31 if the House and Senate do not act.
The extension gives critics -- who successfully filibustered a House-Senate compromise that would have made most of the law permanent -- more time to seek civil liberty safeguards in the law. Democrats and their allies had originally asked for a three-month extension, and the Senate's Republican majority had offered a one-year extension. The final deal split the difference.
"For a lot of reasons, it made the most sense, given that there are significant differences that remain," said GOP Sen. John Sununu, center right (with Sen. Schumer, left, and Sen. Leahy, right), (news, bio, voting record) of New Hampshire, one of a small group of Republicans who joined with Senate Democrats to filibuster a House-Senate compromise.
The bill's critics gained momentum Wednesday when they released a letter crafted by Sununu and Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., showing they had 52 senators agreeing to support a three-month extension.
"This is the right thing to do for the country," Schumer said after the deal had been announced. "To let the Patriot Act lapse would have been a dereliction of duty."
, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republican congressional leaders have lobbied fiercely to get the House-Senate compromise passed, and issued dire warnings of what would happen if the Patriot Act expires.
Source: AP-Yahoo News.Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
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