Friday, December 16, 2005

Venite ad iudicum

This is serious:

Senators on both sides of the aisle argued that some of the act's provisions infringe on civil rights. The bipartisan group proposed a three-month extension to continue debate and amend certain provisions, but the Senate also rejected that proposal Friday.

The Senate needed 60 votes to override a filibuster and end debate, which is called "invoking cloture." Cloture would have brought the Patriot Act to a final vote, allowing the Senate to renew it by a simple majority.

But only 52 senators voted to cut off debate; 47 voted against cloture.

The move lays the groundwork for a high-stakes showdown.

Bush has said he would veto a three-month extension, arguing it would be inadequate. But without an extension, 16 provisions could expire at the end of the year. There's also the possibility the Senate could still manage to bring the Patriot Act to a vote before the December 31 deadline.

The Bush administration had lobbied intensely for making the provisions permanent. Top officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had called lawmakers in hopes of swaying them to the administration's position. (Read what Bush has to say)

In a statement after the Senate's vote, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the provisions "are essential to our efforts in the war on terrorism and their loss will damage our ability to prevent terrorist attacks. Our nation cannot afford to let these important counterterrorism tools lapse."

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