Deserting and embarrassing their GOP House leadership, 26 Republicans--including several members of the Tea Party Caucus--bolted Tuesday night to join Democrats in a surprise rejection of a centerpiece of Bush-era powers to fight terrorism that curbed American civil liberties.
The House Republican leaders had expected an easy victory in their efforts to reauthorize three expiring powers under the PATRIOT Act--among them, allowing ''roving wiretaps'' and searches of people's medical, banking, and library records. It is likely the GOP will succeed in a later vote, but Tuesday night's rebuff sent a strong message.
Fannie, Freddie, and Barry
Bye-Bye Blue Dogs
Suleiman, Not Mubarak, May Hold Key to Egypt's Future
By a 277-148 margin, the bill fell just shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House under suspension of the rules, representing somewhat of an embarrassment for House Republicans on a matter of national security. Republicans were accusing Democrats, many of whom had supported the extension of the provisions in the 111th Congress, of hypocrisy.
"I am surprised that so many Democrats who supported an extension of these very same provisions last Congress suddenly changed their votes," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. "President Obama supports a reauthorization of these important national security tools. And the House bill provides Congress with the opportunity to engage in a thorough review of the provisions as we consider a longer reauthorization. It's unfortunate that partisan politics seems to have prevented so many Democrats from doing what's best for America's national security."