House leadership included the measure in a government funding bill—and even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus went along with it.
By Sam Adler-Bell
November 24/25, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - It may seem to many Americans that Washington is entirely consumed by the impeachment inquiry, and that no other important business is getting done on Capitol Hill. But on Tuesday, in a break from televised hearings, the House of Representatives voted to fund the government through December 20. If passed by the Senate, the continuing resolution would prevent a government shutdown and forestall a debate about border-wall funding.
That’s all well and good, except that Democratic leaders had slipped something else into the bill: a three-month extension of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 law that gave the federal government sweeping surveillance and search powers and circumvented traditional law-enforcement rules. Key provisions of the Patriot Act were set to expire on December 15, including Section 215, the legal underpinning of the call detail records program exposed in the very first Edward Snowden leak.
“It’s surreal,” Representative Justin Amash told me on Tuesday, just before the vote. Amash, an independent who left the Republican Party over his opposition to President Trump, pointed to the hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle. Republicans have “decried FISA abuse” against the president and his aides, he said, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, “and Democrats have highlighted Trump’s abuse of his executive powers, yet they’re teaming up to extend the administration’s authority to warrantlessly gather data on Americans.”
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