Patriot Act extension fails to pass

Not a misprint: House Democrats and the Tea Party joined forces today to defeat the rest of the Republican party and the Obama Administration. [Wapo]


  1. Good. This was on the same day the administration told Egypt to rescind its emergency law provision that has been in place for decades. Screw the “patriot” act.

  2. Or maybe not so much. Of the 111 “tea party endorsed”, 96 voted for the extension, 12 against, and 3 did not vote.

    1. Or maybe not so much. Of the 111 “tea party endorsed”, 96 voted for the extension, 12 against, and 3 did not vote.

      We’ll take what we can get.

    2. Exactly. The media is already running away with the ‘Democrats and Tea Party working together!’ narrative when its just not true. It’s also important to point out that none of the so called stars of the Tea Party like Michelle Bachman, Alan West, Jason Chaffetz, Chip Cravaack, Sean Duffy, or Paul Ryan voted against extension. The small group of republicans that did vote against extension did it for a variety of reasons that that have more to do with long standing beliefs and their local constituencies. And some just like poking the eye of their leadership so they can get some concessions somewhere else.

      How I wish this meant there were some sudden realization amongst anti-big government republicans that maybe they should be against things like spying on americans and handing library records to the feds… in addition to health care and financial regulation.

  3. Wow. Just fucking wow.

    I must admit, this news makes me feel a bit patriotic.

    (I guess that’s kinda like a woman feeling love for her man if he agrees to stop beating her…not exactly a positive. But hell, it’s still surprising news.)

  4. Looks like they’ll try again later, under different rules not requiring a 2/3’s majority as was needed today. So this may not hold up “on appeal,” as it were.


    This law single handedly killed America. This, in one law, was an utter fucking obliteration of any last shred of integrity in justice and law in America. Complete mimicry of all the worst of totalitarian regimes of the cold war and gestapo, combined, without the scent database. They had a new version of that- roving warrantless wiretaps.

    To this day I want to take the bastards that voted for this in the first place without reading the damn thing and sodomize them forcibly with broken glass bottles. As far as I’m concerned, they are no longer US citizens (cute how that works the other way around, isn’t it?)- anyone who would violate so many fundamental civil rights in one law signed away American citizenship and needs to join Joseph McCarthy and Stalin in Hell.

    The worst part is, in the linked article, that some people STILL say “well, I really need to review all of this before I let it expire you know…”

    To Congress, Washington, the office of the President- you singlehandedly fucked every American ass raw with these “laws” for over TEN (10!) YEARS.
    A decade of civil rights RAPE. A decade of American atrocity in the guise of law. A decade of paranoia, suspicion, and fear.

    Ten years of brutal raping the justice system and people’s rights. A pullout is long overdue!

  6. Huzzah!
    ASFAIC, the “Patriot Act” is about the worst, un-democratic, and anti-American piece of garbage ever. I’m sure the fascists will find some way of resurrecting it. But for now, it feels good that they let it go away.

  7. Bersl2’s probably right. This was on the suspension calendar, so it needed 2/3ds to pass. It’ll be brought up again on the regular calendar next week, where it’ll only need a majority.

  8. Let’s be clear: This is heartening, but the PATRIOT Act isn’t dead. The bill was brought to the House floor under a suspension of the rules. That means that it needed a 2/3 vote to pass, and missed that by 14 votes.

    The assholes (because they’re Democrats and Republicans) can still bring this back under the rules and pass it, because they’ll only need 50%+1 then. So the PATRIOT Act isn’t gone. It just suffered a minor, but embarrassing, setback.

    So, yay! a few tea partiers meant what they said! But we civil libertarians should not rejoice too much…

  9. The patriot act was the second american revolution.

    In the passing of that disgusting act of oppression american’s rights changed more than during our war of independance.

    If our rights are not restored the US as we know it is on borrowed time, it’s a matter of too many people, too disenfranchised for too long.

    We should hold a contest to see who can guess what the new boundaries/names will be for all the new little countries that form when the US balkanizes.

    I’m gonna live in Montanaho or Califoregon

  10. Who’s not voting for Obama next term?

    *Raises hand*

    I strongly discourage people on the left from encouraging Obama’s complete failure to adhere to our principles. Whether or not the right votes for him has always been irrelevant, I want him to see what happens when the left doesn’t.

    1. Who’s not voting for Obama next term?

      Keep in mind that the alternative may well be a certain half-term former Governor from Alaska.

      Besides, his failure to adhere to our principles wasn’t really “complete.” He did get DADT repealed, after all… and even if it was a tortuously slow and bureaucratic process it’s clearly not something that would have happened under McCain. Also: we’re not at war with either Iran or North Korea.


      1. I didn’t vote for him the first time around, but I gotta say that DADT seems pretty trivial compared to the harm he’s done.

        Back-peddled on tele-co immunity, indefinite detentions, free-trade agreement with columbia (in the works).

        We’re still in Iraq, and ain’t going nowhere.

        Escalated Afghanistan.


        Continued blank check to Israel.

        Persecution of wikileaks activists and Bradley Manning.

        And, of course, backing the pat act.

        I’m on the tail end of a long work-day, so I got nothing else. This is enough.

        The dems are always marginally better than the repubs on a handful of hot-button domestic issues (abortion and gay rights spring to mind). But that ain’t saying a whole lot. I’d rather not vote than give my support to someone guilty of the things Obama is guilty of.

        That “lesser of two evils” horse has been beaten for at least 50 years…I don’t know when it died, but I know it’s dead.

        My two cents: any candidate with heavy corporate backing should never be voted for.

        1. It’s fair and necessary to criticize Obama for his failures, but let’s not view them in a vacuum either. Do you really believe that we wouldn’t be even worse off on every single one of those fronts if the other guy won?

          I’m not even saying you should actively support Obama if you don’t think he’s done any good. But voting “against” him means voting FOR someone else- and it just so happens that his main opposition is much worse on these particular issues. If you don’t buy the “lesser of two evils” argument that’s fine, but it would be nice if you also provided a viable alternative. I’m sure not going to hold my breath for the perfect candidate because that animal just don’t exist.

          1. Good points. My viable alternative is usually not considered viable. (Kang says, “Go ahead! Throw your vote away!”) Third party politics and, more importantly, grass-roots economic decentralization.

            I’m not trying to start a flame-war here, but we ARE worse on some of these issues now than we were under Bush the Younger. Obama has claimed the right to assassinate a US-citizen for god’s sake.

            But again, this is a bit off topic (though not much), and I’m not looking to flame. Night all.

          2. I think I understand what you’re saying and I agree with you, but I’m curious about one thing: why is it such a big deal that he’s authorized assassinations on US citizens?

            Particularly, why is it not a big deal that assassinations have been authorized, historically, against any number of people? Why does this case, of the person being a US citizen, raise such concern? We can classify people as citizens of whatever country we wish, but at the end of the day, a person is a person whether they’re born and raised in Pakistan or Afghanistan or the United States of America.

            I don’t understand outrage or disgust at authorizing an action against a US citizen when the same actions have been authorized against other human beings for decades.

            (To clarify: my point is, the fact that the act itself is being done is what should be vilified, not the fact that it’s being used on US citizens. We’re all human beings; our nation of citizenship should mean nothing.)

          3. @Tim:

            Several possible explanations. One is that the people that support a brutal foreign policy often think they’re so special that they are at risk from these internal policies. Another is that if your world view can be stereotyped as “we are the best, so it’s ok when we mess with the rest”, it’s unpleasant to be reminded of the flaws in your own system. A third is that, to paraphrase Stalin badly, foreign policy is statistics, but internal policy is personal.

          4. Tim, assassination of citizenry is a very very big deal! It’s about the rule of law, national law, and it’s about the checks and balances that are (supposed to) constrain the agreement between governors and governed.

            If some foreigner needs killing (and let’s not pretend that never happens) you cannot arrest, charge, try, and execute or imprison him without providing casus belli; kidnapping Noriega or any other non-citizen and subjecting him to your law is an act of war. However, if your agents simply assassinate this foreigner, and it cannot be proven who did it, that provides no such impetus to international conflict. A successful assassination, in such circumstances, is a humane and efficient way to conserve the lives of citizens and soldiers in both countries (and allies) by avoiding war. One death instead of thousands, and the death is restricted to a clear target who (in the jaundiced estimation of the government) needed to die.

            If some citizen needs killing, on the other hand, we have a system that allows that citizen’s guilt or innocence to be established in the eyes of society, and an agreed-upon punishment to be levied, which may include death, imprisonment, or restitution for harmful deeds. By using this system, we assure the majority of the citizenry (who presumably assent to the laws, or they would elect politicians who promised to change them) that the punishment of this citizen was not undeserved, that this man or woman broke the social contract rather than simply offending the imperial powers with his or her continued existence. This prevents the citizenry from rising up in rebellion (as when Rodney King was punished by policemen before being properly tried and convicted) and thus preserves the lives of citizens, police and soldiers by avoiding riots and rebellions.

            Historically, when you stop making distinctions between the people who are living semi-voluntarily under your government and those who are under other governments, your society spirals into an increasingly authoritarian state, eventually approaching or reaching hereditary rule, and terminating in bloody revolution.

            I used the term semi-voluntarily because an early warning sign is the restriction of travel and social mobility. We hit that early warning sign immediately after World War II when the system of passports was kept instead of restoring the freedom of people to relocate across national boundaries; the world’s despots did not want people to follow Engels’ advice and “vote with their feet”. That was so long ago that people now take it for granted that governments not only have the right to impede travel, they have the right to prevent the movement of people who have committed no crimes whatsoever.

            Avoiding war, riot and rebellion is a fine goal for governments, especially governments who wish to achieve robust economic health through the benefits of well regulated trade. Sadly, the US government is run by people who are ignoring the lessons of history; your own misunderstandings, Tim, are forgivable and understandable since you are presumably not President Obama – but the President’s failure to end the torture and killing of our citizenry is inexcusable.

          5. The problem with criticizing Obama is the fact he’s inheriting 8 years of bullshit from lesser Bush and his henchmen.

            I dare anyone to clean up a mess like that.

          6. Yeah, that excuse wore out when he started arguing for far right measures, instead of merely saying they were inconvenient to get rid of. Why did it have to be a Republican plan instead of a Democrat one if he didn’t need their support to pass it anyways? Who forced his administration to suggest making indefinite detention illegal in the US, or made him give his speech about how gay marriage wasn’t like interracial marriage? How is Bush responsible for his suppression of WikiLeaks, or the idea he can assassinate US citizens? And if he actually wanted about cleaning up the mess he was left, why did he take active steps to grant immunity to the telecos?

            By all means, endorse Obama as better than the alternative. But don’t pretend he couldn’t have done much, much better if he cared to.

        2. I’m on the tail end of a long work-day, so I got nothing else. This is enough.

          Let me help. There is also ACTA, which is a cultural disaster threatening to happen, and way more restrictive even than the current American copyright regime. But don’t worry, the consistency won’t persist for long, because the Obama administration is writing an all new, more draconian domestic copyright bill to please Joe Biden and his RIAA/MPAA paymasters, which will certainly bring the US more in line with tightening of the gauntlet around fair use and freedom to tinker represented by ACTA.

          Obama has been a general disappointment to freedom-loving individuals on almost every single thing he’s put his finger in. Not a specific disappointment to me though, as I could see the writing on the wall from the moment he chose Biden as his running mate. I’m almost as leftist as they come but I honestly believe that McCain would have been a better choice at this point.

    2. I didn’t vote for him the first time, and again, I will vote for what I believe in, so some of us are already on that page. I think it’s good that you are pushing it, though. New voices need to be heard, regarding 3rd party candidates (and not reactionaries regarding the presidents race, or imagined religious/ideological affiliation)… If Nader doesn’t run, I’ll see who the greens are running this year, though I’ll have to write them in (down here in GA).

      I’m disappointed in Obama (I had hopes, I guess), but not really surprised. It was nice to get over the race hurdle for a presidential candidate, but… He was an establishment candidate to begin with so we should not have expected too much out of him. Establishment candidates are going to do what their corporate paymasters tell them to do and since we have a defacto 2 party system, there is little hope of getting 3rd parties an independent hearing that isn’t tainted by that same corporate $$ — and any populist movements that go anywhere tend to get co-opted by the Repubocrats, anyway… The Pat act extension will get passed eventually, and he will sign it. I think we all know that.

      Things are quite sad. I’m quite sad now. :-(

    3. But… but… that would be informed, responsible voting! You know, like the founding fathers advocated!

      You are a traitor and a member of the rebel alliance.

      I stopped campaigning for Obama when he reneged on his telco immunity promise, six months or so before the election. I was going to vote McCain instead – for all his many faults, at least he would have stopped the torture, which Obama hasn’t – but then that knucklehead picked Palin for a running mate. What a maroon!

      The only responsible choice was to vote third party.

  11. “Democrats in Congress voted to deny their own administration’s request for key weapons in the war on terror,” said Erica Elliott, spokeswoman for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

    Glad to see fearmongering is still alive and well within the Republican party.

    1. Well yeah. They warned us we would all die if we stopped waterboarding people, and they were right. One way or another, we will all die.

    2. Glad to see fearmongering is still alive and well within the Republican party.

      Well, to be fair, it’s Kevin McCarthy, after all.

      They’re here already! You’re next!

  12. The Republican leadership should announce that all party dissenters are being given an all expenses paid vacation to Egypt. They will have individual seminars given by Omar Suleiman and company to keep them fresh on the party line.

  13. If McCain was in office now, *every* Tea Party-endorsed congressperson would have voted to extend the Patriot Act. The only reason a few of them didn’t vote to extend it is because they think the Patriot Act will be used by the Obama administration against far right elements.

  14. The important point here isn’t that Obama’s backing the wrong bill. Or that most Tea Party Republicans are willing to sell out our civil liberties.

    The cool thing is the Democrats actually took a stand, and a few Tea Party backed Congressmen were brave enough to join them.

  15. Sorry; but I just can’t bring myself to cheer over purely symbolic victories that, on closer inspection, are actually harbingers of defeat. A large majority in the House voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act. The only reason it failed was because the House was using a procedural rule that required a 2/3 vote to pass, and it only failed to get a 2/3 majority by a few votes. There’s nothing preventing supporters of the Patriot Act from bringing the extension bill up for a vote again under the normal rules which require only a majority vote to pass. They almost certainly will do this; and, unless a whole bunch of Representatives switch their vote from “yea” to “nay” in the meantime, the Patriot Act extension will easily pass. This is no cause for celebration, unless you’re a fan of the Patriot Act. The only thing newsworthy about it is the fact that a handful of Tea Partiers voted against the extension rather than toeing the Republican party line.

    1. In light of what Rachel Maddow reported about the Patriot Act vote on her show tonight, I would like to (ever so slightly) revise my previous comment – or at least the final line of my previous comment. It turns out that this was not a defection by Tea Partiers after all. Most of the Republicans who voted “no” on the Patriot Act extension were actually rank-and-file G.O.P.ers who are not part of the Tea Party Caucus in the House. Also, most members of the Tea Party Caucus voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act. So this is not really a Tea Party vs. mainstream G.O.P. thing.

      Also, as Rachel pointed out, the significance of this vote is not the fact that some Republicans bucked the party line, but that the Republican leadership actually brought up this bill using special rules that required a 2/3 majority to pass without first making sure they had enough votes to pass it. Big fail on the part of the G.O.P. leadership in the House, and especially on the part of the new Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy, whose job is to make sure that the votes are there.

  16. BastardNamban Joseph McCarthy was right. Have a look at Blacklisted By History and the evidence is there directly from the Soviets own files released after the fall of the Berlin Wall and failure of the Soviet State.

  17. FOLLOW UP: This hasn’t gotten much media coverage yet because it’s been overshadowed by events in Egypt; but on Thursday afternoon the House passed the Patriot Act extension, using the regular rules that required only a majority to pass rather than a 2/3 majority.

    Here is the final vote tally:

    Yeas: 248 (R: 233; D: 15)
    Nays: 176 (R: 4, D: 172)

    (with 9 Representatives not voting)

    Compare that with the previous vote when the bill failed to get the required 2/3 majority:

    Yeas: 277 (R: 210; D: 67)
    Nays: 147 (R: 26, D: 122)

    (with 9 Representatives not voting)

    You’ll notice that several Democrats switched their votes from Yea to Nay, while several Republicans switched their votes from Nay to Yea. The apparent “split” within the Republican Party on the issue of extending the Patriot Act that was apparent in Tuesday’s vote had completely disappeared by Thursday.

    1. Oops! My apologies. (Serves me right for taking at face value what I read online before I do my own research to confirm it.) What actually passed Thursday afternoon was a resolution to consider the Patriot Act extension – i.e. to open debate on the bill in the House. Here’s a link to the actual resolution that was passed on Thursday:

      What happened Tuesday was that the Republican leadership tried to pass the Patriot Act extension using special rules that would have skipped the debate. This failed. So this forced them to reintroduce the bill using the ordinary rules, which would open the bill for debate and possible amendment.

      So the Patriot Act extension has NOT yet passed the House. They’ve merely agreed to open debate on the bill. Again, my apologies for my stupid mistake. I should have gotten my facts straight before posting.

      1. OK, for reals this time. (Sorry again about the mess up last week.)

        The House passed the Patriot Act extension Monday night.

        Here is the final vote tally:

        Yeas: 275 (R: 210; D: 65)

        Nays: 144 (R: 27, D: 117)

        So the end results were almost identical to the vote count when the bill first came up for a vote (using the special rules requiring a 2/3 majority) last Tuesday. But, since they were using the regular rules this time (which required only a majority to pass), the Patriot Act extension passed by a large margin. [sigh]

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