The House balked at a Senate plan to extend the USA Patriot Act by six months, forcing the Senate and the administration to accept a one-month extension, the Washington Post reports. House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wi.) demanded that the House pass an extension only through Feb. 3, forcing a few senators to return to the Capitol last night to give the Senate’s consent. “The fact is that a six-month extension, in my opinion, would have simply allowed the Senate to duck the issue until the last week in June,” said Sensenbrenner, who had largely prevailed in negotiations with the Senate on a new version of the anti-terrorism law, only to see the compromise blocked by a Senate filibuster. “Now they came pretty close to wrecking everybody’s Christmas. I didn’t want to put the entire Congress in the position of them wrecking everybody’s Independence Day.”
The Patriot Act was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The administration sought to toughen some of the provisions and prevent 16 from expiring. Critics charged that the proposed renewal was slanted in the government’s favor regarding national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI significant leeway in obtaining records, among other concerns.