Without debate today, the House acted to extend controversial provisions in the USA PATRIOT ACT to February 3, 2006--five months short of the deadline approved by the Senate earlier this week.
In the Senate -- with just a single senator present -- the measure passed without objection. Only Sen. John Warner (R-VA) was present at the bill's passage. Congress can pass bills in either chamber so long as no member objects.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) had rejected the deal reached by the Senate.
Earlier this week, Senate Democrats successfully derailed a measure that would have made numerous elements of the Patriot Act permanent, including roving wiretaps and 'sneak and peek' library provisions.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi did not oppose the one-month extension, stressing the fact that "ninety percent" of the law would be unaffected by the move. She also issued a statement announcing that she would have preferred a six- or three-month extension to the single month proposed by Sensenbrenner.
The Patriot Act was passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and gave broad powers to law enforcement agencies, allowing them to issue National Security letters to those they considered terror suspects and made it a crime for those under suspicion to even reveal that they had been targeted. The Act has come under fire from both Democrats and libertarian Republicans, who feel that it infringes of Americans' basic civil liberties.