Conyers: Twice Over—Patriot Act Fails to Meet the Needs of the Intelligence, Law Enforcement, and Civil Liberties Communities
Washington, DC, February 14, 2011
Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. and Judiciary Democrats voted again not to renew expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, calling for a more open process and thorough review of the bill’s most controversial provisions. After last week’s bipartisan rejection of the bill, Republican leadership brought the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 back to the House Floor today, under a closed rule, with limited debate and no opportunity for amendment.
The House voted to extend the following provisions: the government’s access to all “business records” without having to show probable cause, the use of “roving” wiretaps, and the so-called “lone wolf” used to prosecute certain individuals in national security cases.
“Here we go again. Last Tuesday, a bipartisan coalition of members stood up to oppose the rubber stamping of these PATRIOT Act powers,” said Conyers. “Democrats and Republicans concerned about civil liberties, government freedom, and personal liberty stood together in resisting the majority's effort to steamroll this measure. Our stand is not about partisanship. It is about principles. This bill is too flawed, too intrusive, and too overreaching. In a remarkable letter to the leaders of Congress, the attorney general warned us that repeated short term extensions like the one before us today ‘increase the uncertainties borne by our intelligence and law enforcement agencies in carrying out their missions.’
“Like the bill, the process by which the GOP leadership has decided to consider it, is undemocratic,” said Conyers. “Despite their promises of openness and regular order, last week’s vote on ‘suspension of the rules’ allowed no opportunity for amendments. And now we are here today under yet another closed rule, with limited debate and no opportunity for offered amendments. The PATRIOT Act is a major national security bill that extends controversial powers and faces substantial bipartisan opposition. It should not go to the floor without an opportunity for full consideration and amendment.”