Aides: Short PATRIOT extension likely

House and Senate Democrats have been unable to agree on changes to three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and a related intelligence law, meaning a short-term reauthorization of existing provisions will most likely be needed soon, according to congressional aides.

The provisions are set to expire at the end of the month. A House Democratic leadership aide said the expectation is that the provisions will be reauthorized for three months in a rider to the fiscal 2010 Defense Appropriations bill, giving lawmakers needed time to work out their differences.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., cautioned last week that the Defense Appropriations bill may be loaded with too many other pieces of legislation.

"I would think under ordinary circumstances, this would be routine to extend [the provisions] for three months, in the hope these are ordinary circumstances," he said. "But the bill is now freighted with a lot of big things -- or could be. That's my concern."

Other aides said the challenge of negotiating a final agreement on revisions to the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions is starting to remind them of the acrimonious debate of rewriting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which took more than a year.

Two bills amending the provisions have come to the forefront, one that was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in November and a measure approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

Both would reauthorize the ability of the government to use roving wiretaps to monitor the communications of suspects and to obtain Section 215 court orders seeking tangible evidence for investigations, although they differ over changes to the provisions.

The bills also make several changes to current law, especially concerning the ability of the Justice Department to issue national security letters, which are demands for information without a court order.

But the House Judiciary bill would allow a provision to expire that allows the government to conduct surveillance on a "lone wolf," or someone who is not knowingly associated with terrorists. The Senate Judiciary bill reauthorizes that provision.

Dan Friedman contributed to this report.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.