Bush Strongarms Congress: Patriot Act Upheld

Congress has bowed to Bush. His threat of withholding funding worked. In a 210-210 vote in the House, extended by Republicans for 23 minutes so they could get a few vote-switchers, the bill to eliminate the Patriot Act provision authorizing the feds to obtain our library records was defeated.

The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's reading habits. The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but GOP leaders kept the vote open for 23 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes.

"You win some, and some get stolen," Rep. C.L. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, a sponsor of the defeated provision and one of Congress' more conservative members, told a reporter.

Remember when Ashcroft told us they weren't using the library records provision of the Patriot Act? And libraries contradicted him? Seems Ashcroft is now singing a different tune:

Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said he switched his initial "yes" vote to "no" after being shown Justice Department documents asserting that terrorists have communicated over the Internet via public library computers.

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