Senate Republicans working with the Bush administration are pushing a proposal that would make permanent the sweeping anti-terrorism powers of the controversial Patriot Act passed after 9/11 to temporarily assist the government in the war on terroism.
The proposal, by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), would repeal the ?sunset? provision governing many of the most controversial new surveillance powers authorized by the act, reports Eric Lichtblau for Information Clearinghouse. Those powers were set to expire in 2005, unless reauthorized by Congress.
Congressional moderates and civil libertarians, who had agreed to support the act after the terrorist attacks only if those increased surveillance powers were made temporary, are expected to challenge Hatch?s proposal. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said he ?would be very strongly opposed to any repeal.?
Proponents of the repeal are reportedly planning to attach their proposal as an amendment to a piece of controversial legislation that would free federal agents to seek surveillance warrants without showing that their suspects are affiliated with a terrorist group. That measure, sponsored by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to move to the Senate floor for a full vote within a week.
But Democrats opposed to the Kyl-Schurmer bill are likely to attach amendments watering down the measure, and Republicans will take that opportunity to attach the repeal provision. ?We support this bill as it is and that?s how we want to see it passed,? said an aide to Senator Hatch, who wished to remain anonymous. ?If the Democrats want to amend the bill, then we will offer an equal number of amendments to improve the bill as well. We hope the Democrats will stop holding this bill up.?