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Patriot Act extension vote fails to pass House; Tea Party caucas members vote "no"

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Compiled by Ian Saleh
Washington Post Staff
Wednesday, February 9, 2011; 2:53 PM

A vote to extend provisions of the Patriot Act did not pass in the House on Tuesday. As Paul Kane and Felicia Somnez reported:

House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea-party bloc.

The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.

But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November's midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed.

The Republicans who control the House made plans to bring the measure back for a quick vote later this month under normal rules, requiring only a simple majority for passage. They blamed House Democrats for the bill's downfall, noting that they provided the lion's share of votes against a bill that President Obama supports.

There was some confusion on Tuesday night as Rep. Jane Harman released a statement confirming the measure's success:

California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman is departing the House to become the new president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars -- but it appears she may have already partially checked out of Congress.

In a statement Tuesday night, Harman claimed that a measure on extending key provisions of the Patriot Act "passed the House by a vote of 277-148."

The problem: the measure still didn't pass the House. It fell short of the two-thirds needed under fast-track rules.

The votes of several GOP freshmen and Tea Party caucus members helped derail the measure, as Scott Butterworth reported:

Eight House Republican freshmen and three inaugural members of the Tea Party Caucus voted against a proposed extension of three Patriot Act provisions Tuesday night, blocking the measure from passage under fast-track rules.

Attention immediately swung to whether House members sympathetic to the tea party had decided the matter, especially after Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) said Monday that the vote would be "the tea party's first test."

The Republicans who voted no Tuesday night included Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), Paul Broun (Ga.) and Walter B. Jones (N.C.), all of whom were original members of the House Tea Party Caucus when it was founded last summer.

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