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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 05/27/2011

The Patriot Act flippers

Every now and then in Congress, a vote comes along that isn’t strictly divided along party lines. The Patriot Act, which Congress approved Thursday in an eleventh-hour scramble, was one of those votes.

Thursday’s measure, which extends three key provisions of the 2001 counterterrorism surveillance law for four more years, passed the Senate and House with overwhelming bipartisan support – 72 out of 100 senators backed it, as did 250 of 435 House members.

That means the Patriot Act likely won’t be on the minds of many members until 2015. Even so, a closer look at some of the lawmakers who recently shifted their positions on the issue sheds some light on what may be in store for future battles over the legislation.

Thursday’s House and Senate majorities were both slimmer than when Congress passed a 90-day extension of the Patriot Act provisions in February. Then, 86 senators and 279 House members backed the three-month re-authorization.

Between February and May, 11 senators switched their Patriot Act votes from “yes” to “no.” Many of those who flipped their votes did do because, as they argued on the Senate floor, they opposed consideration of the four-year extension without the inclusion of amendments that would tighten oversight of the law. Others objected to the lack of debate time the measure was given on the Senate floor.

In the House, 24 members – 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans – flipped from “yes” to “no” between February and May. A smaller number – two Democrats and five Republicans – switched from “no” to “yes.”

The two votes saw some members of Democratic leadership in both chambers sour on the Patriot Act extension. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number-two Senate Democrat, voted in favor of February’s measure but opposed the four-year extension on Thursday, as did Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chair of the Democratic National Committee, cast a “no” vote when the House first held a fast-track vote on the Patriot Act in early February; that vote failed to reach the two-thirds necessary for passage. Wasserman Schultz later voted “yes” on February’s 90-day extension and on May’s four-year extension.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s vote saw 31 House Republicans oppose the reauthorization, five more than opposed the Patriot Act extension in February. House Republican leaders had been urging members to vote “yes,” especially after their failed effort earlier in February to fast-track the measure. (Worth noting: seven of the 10 Republicans who flipped from “yes” to “no” between February and May were freshmen.)

Below is a list of the members who flipped from “yes” to “no” from February to May, as well as those who flipped the other way:

10 House Republicans -- “yes” to “no”

Jason Chaffetz (Utah)

Jeff Duncan (S.C.)

Morgan Griffith (Va.)

Andy Harris (Md.)

Jamie Herrera (Wash.)

Don Manzullo (Ill.)

Bill Posey (Fla.)

Todd Rokita (Ind.)

Scott Tipton (Colo.)

Allen West (Fla.)

1 4 House Democrats – “yes” to “no”

Gary Ackerman (N.Y.)

Russ Carnahan (Mo.)

Joe Courtney (Conn.)

Elijah Cummings (Md.)

Charlie Gonzalez (Texas)

Alcee Hastings (Fla.)

Martin Heinrich (N.M.)

Jay Inslee (Wash.)

Stephen Lynch (Mass.)

Jerry McNerney (Calif.)

Chris Murphy (Conn.)

Ed Perlmutter (Colo.)

Chris Van Hollen (Md.)

John Yarmuth (Ky.)

1 Senate Republican – “yes” to “no”

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

*Dean Heller (Nev.), who was not yet a member of the Senate for February’s vote, also voted “no” in May

9 Senate Democrats – “yes” to “no”

Daniel Akaka (Hawaii)

Jeff Bingaman (N.M.)

Maria Cantwell (Wash.)

Chris Coons (Del.)

Dick Durbin (Ill.)

Al Franken (Minn.)

Patrick Leahy (Vt.)

Mark Udall (Colo.)

Ron Wyden (Ore.)

5 House Republicans -- “no” to “yes”

Randy Hultgren (Ill.)

Jack Kingston (Ga.)

Kenny Marchant (Texas)

Bobby Schilling (Ill.)

Dave Schweikert (Ariz.)

2 House Democrats – “no” to “yes”

Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)

David Scott (Ga.)

Senate Republicans – “no” to “yes”

None

Senate Democrats – “no” to “yes”

None

By  |  11:10 AM ET, 05/27/2011

 
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