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PATRIOT Act extension fails procedural vote, expected to return

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A plan that would have seen the House of Representatives extend controversial provisions of the PATRIOTAct with little debate failed Tuesday night, as a group of Republicans joined a majority of Democrats in voting no.

The House voted 277 to 148 for the PATRIOT Act extension — 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.

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But it appears the bill was controversial enough to convince some two dozen tea party-backed Republican freshmen to join a majority of Democrats in voting against it, The Hill reported.

The measure is now expected to return to the House floor for a regular vote that would require a simple majority to pass. If House members vote then as they did Tuesday, the extension will pass easily.

At issue were three core measures in the PATRIOT Act adopted in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks to fill what the government complained were gaps in its abilities to track and catch extremists.

The provisions, which expire at month’s end, allow authorities to use roving wiretaps to track an individual on several telephones; track a non-US national suspected of being “lone-wolf” terrorist not tied to an extremist group; and to seize personal or business records seen as critical to an investigation.

The White House said in a statement that it “strongly supports extension of three critical authorities that our nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies need to protect our national security.”

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With the Republican-held House of Representatives set to vote on extending the powers to December 8, the White House said it “would strongly prefer” an extension to December 2013, but “does not object” to the House bill. House Republicans say the 10-month span would provide the time needed to debate and enact a longer extension, and the GOP’s leadership has said it ultimately wants to see the PATRIOT Act made permanent.

That some tea party Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the measure will likely be welcome news to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who earlier this week issued a challenge to tea party members to stand up for the civil liberties they say they cherish by opposing the PATRIOT Act, which has been severely criticized by civil libertarians since its original passing after the 9/11 attacks.

“I am hopeful that members of the Tea Party who came to Congress to defend the Constitution will join me in challenging the reauthorization,” Kucinich said in a statement.

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With a report from AFP


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Louisiana Democrat re-elected governor — despite Trump’s rallies for the Republican candidate

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The Associated Press has called the Lousiana's governor's race for incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards.

Edwards triumphed over Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who called to concede.

The outcome is another major political loss for President Donald Trump, who had held multiple campaign rallies for Rispone.

During his most recent rally, Trump begged the crowd to give him a "big win" in the election.

Eddie Rispone has conceded the #lagov race to Gov. John Bel Edwards, giving the Democrat four more years in ruby red Louisiana despite Trump’s best efforts to flip the seat. Edwards camp says Rispone called minutes ago to concede. #lagov #lalege

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Press secretary says it is ‘dangerous for the country’ to question whether she is putting out honest info

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Press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Saturday argued it was "dangerous for the country" for anyone to challenge the veracity of her claims.

Grisham made her argument after President Donald Trump went to Walter Reed Hospital for an unannounced doctor's visit, resulting in a great deal of speculation.

Following the visit, Grisham claimed Trump was "healthy" and "without complaints" -- a claim many found unlikely as the president has spent a good deal of time as president airing his many grievances.

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Sondland used WhatsApp to communicate with Ukraine — and won’t turn over the messages: report

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland used WhatsApp to send encrypted messages to a top Ukranian official, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The communication occurred with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Volodymr Zelensky, when Sondland was in Kyiv, the newspaper reported.

"Sondland was also texting back and forth on WhatsApp with Yermak throughout the trip, and had been communicating with other Ukrainian officials over the messaging app in the preceding and subsequent months, according to people familiar with his interactions," The Post reported.

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