Friday, May 27, 2011

Patriot Act clears House, Senate -- after being signed into effect by a machine

Capping a week of political bickering and parliamentary delays, the House joined the Senate on Thursday to pass a four-year extension of key provisions of the Patriot Act that was set to expire at midnight.

Because President Barack Obama was traveling in Europe, he signed the bill into law using an autopen, a machine that replicates the president’s signature.

The House voted 250-153 to renew three parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law. Thirty-one House Republicans joined most Democrats in opposing the extension, while 54 Democrats supported it.

Hours earlier, the bill cleared the Senate on a 72-23 vote, with 19 Democrats and four Republicans voting no, mostly over concerns the Patriot Act violates personal privacy and civil liberties. (read more)