Democrats, Republicans Change Their View on the Patriot Act

Is the Patriot Act vital for national security?

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Last Thursday, Congress passed a 90-day extension to certain controversial parts of the USA Patriot Act, providing lawmakers extra time to consider the provisions, including one that allows federal investigators to use roving wiretap surveillance without seeking a court order. These provisions were not made permanent when the Patriot Act originally passed—shortly after the 9/11 attacks—since they raised concerns over giving the U.S. government too much power to spy, and they were set to expire next month. In early February, a similar measure to extend the provisions failed in the U.S. House, which tried using fast-track rules that would have required a two-thirds positive vote rather than a simple majority. Twenty-six GOP lawmakers, including eight Tea Party freshmen, sided with most Democrats in voting that fast-tracked measure down. Pew Research Center reports that public opinion matches this apparent decline in Republican support for the Patriot Act in Congress. While more Democrats and independents agree the act is necessary in the war on terror, Republican support has dropped 8 percentage points.