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House clears way for PATRIOT Act extension

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The US House of Representatives voted Thursday night to clear the road for an extension of controversial provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act.

The final vote was 248 to 176, largely along party lines. Just 4 Republicans voted against the extension, while only 15 Democrats voted for it.

Under the House bill, the act would be extended until Dec. 8. A vote was planned for Monday.

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Democrats protested a Republican plan to hold the vote under the “closed rule,” which prevented amendments.

The last PATRIOT Act extension was passed in Feb. 2010.

Thursday’s House vote paved the way for a second ballot on the PATRIOT Act, allowing it to clear the chamber with a simple majority. An earlier vote failed when it did not obtain a two thirds majority.

The Wednesday vote was 23 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass it under a procedure that allows bills that aren’t controversial to pass quickly.

When the act was first signed into law, Congress put in some “sunset” provisions to quiet the concerns of civil libertarians, but they were ignored by successive extensions. Unfortunately, those concerns proved to be well founded, and a 2008 Justice Department report confirmed that the FBI regularly abused their ability to obtain personal records of Americans without a warrant.

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The only real sign of strong opposition to the act was in 2005, when a Democratic threat to filibuster its first renewal was overcome by Senate Republicans.

The Obama administration had called for the act to be extended for three years, two years longer than Republicans were seeking.

As a US Senator and candidate for the presidency, Barack Obama never actually argued for a repeal of the Bush administration’s security initiatives. Instead, he’s consistently argued for enhanced judicial oversight and a pullback on the most extreme elements of the bill, such as the use of National Security Letters to search people’s personal records without a court-issued warrant.

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A prior version of this article said the House had passed the PATRIOT Act extension.

— With earlier reporting by Daniel Tencer and Stephen C. Webster

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Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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John Oliver explains how the Ukraine scandal so stupid even Fox News ‘idiot’ Steve Doocy should understand it

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver closed out his season with a special report for Fox News hosts who seem to be struggling with the basic understanding of things like "bribery" or the concept that attempted crimes are still actually crimes.

At the top of Sunday's show, Oliver played a clip of Fox News host Laura Ingraham who made the argument that if Trump tried to commit a crime and didn't manage to pull it off, then he's clearly innocent.

"Attempted bribery isn't in the constitution," proclaimed Ingraham, forgetting about what "high crimes and misdemeanors" covers. "Remember, Ukraine got its aid, it was 14 days delayed, big deal. And Ukraine never made any public statement about the investigation."

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This is the energy executive who first exposed Trump’s Ukraine scandal: report

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CNN host Chris Cuomo did a special investigative report by Drew Griffin looking at the money trail from Russia to President Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal.

"You probably don’t know Dale Perry, but history may record this energy executive as one of the first who sounded the alarm about what would become President Trump’s impeachment inquiry," said Griffin. "In April, Perry’s former business partner Andrew Favorov, now a director at Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz, says two shady characters had approached him, with a secret management plan to take over the management from the inside. Those two shady characters Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are two low-level, Soviet-born businessmen from south Florida. And they were trying to clear the way for their own gas business."

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‘A slam-dunk-case’: MSNBC analysts predict GOP will defend Trump — and ‘the guy is going to get off’

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More evidence was outed Sunday as the Wall Street Journal revealed emails from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who promised to keep the White House abreast of President Donald Trump's demand for an investigation by Ukraine. The news prompted an MSNBC panelists to explain that it wouldn't matter how much evidence was presented, Republicans will never vote to remove Trump.

Host Geoff Bennett asked about the witness testimony and preponderance of evidence that "all points in one direction at this point, that President Trump orchestrated this entire" Ukraine investigations.

"It's a slam dunk case, and yet we know the guy is going to get off," said Los Angels Times White House reporter Eli Stokols. "That's effectively what you're saying. Because all the testimony has lined up so closely, the fact that [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland has come to come in, and because testimony from [Ambassador Bill] Taylor and others, has had to change testimony, Republicans have no choice -- the president has no choice but to try to dismiss the entire thing as partisan."

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