House votes down three Patriot Act provisions

The U.S. House of Representatives this week voted down the extension of three surveillance tools considered by many to be key aspects of the Patriot Act.

The post-9/11 legislation was put into place under the Bush administration in order to keep America safe from terrorism. Tuesday's vote aimed to extend three of the bill's provisions until Dec. 8 of this year.

The final vote was 277-148 to extend the measures. But because the GOP leadership expedited the vote, House rules required a two-thirds majority and the final tally fell seven shy.

26 Republicans joined 122 Democrats in voting against the extension.

Supporters argue the three measures are vital to national security, while detractors say they infringe on basic civil liberties.

Many tea party Republicans - who ran last fall on the platform of smaller government - voted against the bill.

The renewals to the Patriot Act included authority for "court-approved roving wiretaps," which essentially allows for the surveillance of multiple phones. The second measure which failed to pass was the "library records provision" - which allows the FBI to access any tangible item relating to an investigation.

The third provision allows for the secret surveillance of non-U.S. citizens who aren't associated with known terrorist organizations.

The North Country's two representatives - Bill Owens and Chris Gibson - both voted against extending the Patriot Act provisions.

Owens, a Democrat representing New York's 23rd Congressional District, says the Patriot Act has the nation's security in mind.

"But I am concerned about personal privacy protection, which I think needs to be enhanced in the Patriot Act," he said. "I hope we can find a bi-partisan way to accomplish these important goals."

Republican Chris Gibson - who had strong tea party support last fall - says the federal government's foremost responsibility is the safety of its citizens.

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