Tuesday night the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to pass extensions to three provisions of the Patriot Act. The measures required a two-thirds majority vote and 26 Republicans voted with 122 Democrats, defeating the bill, 277to 148. While 67 Democrats voted with most Republicans, they came up seven votes short. Ten House members did not vote. The rejection of renewing these provisions of the Patriot Act may be the first indication of the more independent Tea Party-backed candidates revolting against the GOP establishment. The bill would have extended surveillance powers against terrorism until December, 2013. Many claim the USA patriot Act violates civil liberties. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who opposed the extension, was happy to get support from some of the freshman Republicans.
The provisions set to expire February 28 cover three unpopular aspects of the Patriot Act. One dealt with allowing the FBI to use ‘roving wiretaps’. A second provision gives government investigators to access ‘tangible items’ like library records and the third allows suspects to be investigated even if they are not connected to any known terrorist group.
The Obama administration supported the extension of these provisions. Nancy Pelosi used the term ‘disarray’ to describe how the GOP mismanaged the vote. I suppose in her mind they should have snuck it inside some 2,000-plus-page bill that nobody would read before voting? But many others on the Far-Left are happily surprised by the Tea Party taking a stand for personal privacy. Apparently they did not consider that the Tea Party Caucus actually read the Constitution and is familiar with the 4th and 5th amendments.
However you want to slice it, yesterday’s failure of the House to extend some of the USA Patriot Act provisions shows that the Tea Party is independent from the GOP establishment. That the 26 Republicans who sided with most Democrats in stopping the extension may be a sign that the new political paradigm in Washington is for real. The vote also proves that should a genuine, third party evolve out from the Tea Party, they will have a definite impact on the legislative process even if their numbers are few at the beginning.