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House approves extending key Patriot Act provisions

By Felicia Sonmez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 17, 2011; 8:04 PM

The House passed a 90-day extension of key provisions of the USA Patriot Act counterterrorism surveillance law on Thursday, sending the measure to President Obama for his signature.

The vote was 279 to 143. The legislation would extend the three provisions until May 27, a compromise congressional leaders reached to give lawmakers more time to consider reauthorizing them for a longer period.

The House vote came two days after the Senate approved the short-term extension of the legislation on a bipartisan vote; it also came a week after an initial House effort to fast-track the extension fell seven votes short of passage in an unanticipated embarrassment for Republican House leaders. Thursday's vote was nearly identical to the initial vote in the House last week, when 277 lawmakers backed the bill and 148 opposed it.

The three Patriot Act provisions - dealing with roving wiretaps, "lone wolf" terrorism suspects and the government's ability to seize "any tangible items" during surveillance - are set to expire Feb. 28.

The White House said last week that it "would strongly prefer" an extension of the provisions until 2013 but would not object to a shorter extension.

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