Patriot Act Could Expire This Week

May 26, 2011, 11:56 by R.E. Christian

The federal Patriot Act could briefly expire by the end of the week if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul insists on votes for controversial amendments, officials say.

The Hill newspaper said if the lapse occurs it could severely impact the law enforcement community, which uses it to track suspected terrorists.

Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tabled a motion to extend the Patriot Act in what the newspaper said was a complicated maneuver to circumvent Paul, R-Ky. The maneuver was designed to save time while Paul resists the extension of the law, which expires at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Senate aides told the newspaper.

After Reid was able to table a previous motion to proceed to the Patriot Act by a vote of 74-13, he picked up a privileged message from the House to which he added the Patriot Act extension as a substitute, The Hill said.

Reid then filed cloture on the bill, giving the Senate a chance to vote Thursday on cutting off Paul's filibuster.

But the newspaper warned if Paul insists on using all 30 hours of post-cloture debate Senate rules give him, he could force the Patriot Act to lapse for a day. And even if Paul waives post-cloture debate, lawmakers will have to rush to get the extension signed into law by Thursday because President Obama is in Europe.

The Hill said aides will have to fly a copy of the four-year Patriot Act extension to Europe if they are to prevent law-enforcement powers from expiring.

One of Paul's proposed amendments says authority to obtain information under the Patriot Act does not include certain firearms records.

Source: UPI