After a lonely fight from Senator Rand Paul, the Senate voted to extend the Patriot Act for four more years, passing three key provisions of the national security bill set to expire at midnight. The bill had the support of leaders in both parties and passed easily by a 72-23 vote. Members of the House had scheduled to start their Memorial Day recess this afternoon but were stuck in DC negotiating with members of the Senate as Paul held up the bill's passage with two amendments designed to rollback some of the Patriot Act's powers. Update: Following the Senate vote, the House of Representatives also approved the Patriot Act extensions by a bipartisan vote of 250-153.
Paul's two amendments sought to "limit 'suspicious activity' reporting requirements under the Act to requests from law enforcement agencies" and "exempt certain gun records from being searched" by the federal government, reports The Washington Post. Both amendments failed.
Slate's Dave Weigel said getting the Senate to vote on the amendments wasn't a "victory, but it's something. And Paul used the occasion to give a genuinely compelling speech about civil liberties." Paul said this on the Senate floor today: