After the Senate filibustered the Patriot Act renewal that came out of conference, citing civil liberties concerns, Sen. Bill Frist agreed to and announced that the existing Patriot Act would be extended for six months.
Frist and other Republican senators had previously rejected the idea of extending the current Patriot Act.
It was unclear what the House would do with the bill to extend for six months. It had approved the renewal 251-174 last week.
The House and Senate had passed differing versions of the Patriot Act renewal, and the bill which came out of conference had many of the Senate’s civil liberties protections stripped from it, resulting in last week’s Senate filibuster.
Earlier, President Bush urged Congress to renew expiring provisions of the act, telling reporters, “The terrorist threat is not going to expire at the end of this year.”
Bush called a Senate filibuster “inexcusable.”
“The senators obstructing the Patriot Act need to understand that the expiration of this vital law will endanger America and will leave us in a weaker position in the fight against brutal killers,” Bush said.
At a separate media event, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, “If the impasse continues, when Americans wake up on January 1, we will not be as safe.”
Bush has said he would veto a three-month extension, arguing it would be inadequate. — CNN
Okay, let’s try to get this bill right this time. No more cutting out vital civil liberties protections and oversight.
Update 2:12 am: President Bush appears to have caved in as well. He previously said he would veto a short-term extension to the Patriot Act, but Wednesday night, offered his support. “I appreciate the Senate for working to keep the existing Patriot Act in law through next July,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to work with Congress to re-authorize the Patriot Act.”