With only minutes until their expiration, President Barack Obama signed a four-year extension of three key Patriot Act surveillance provisions. The measure was approved late in the evening on March 26, as it had been blocked for days by a few key Senators over privacy concerns.
The Senate approved the measure, voting 72-23, while the House voted 250-153 in approval. The President was then awakened in France, where he ordered an automated signing into law of the four-year extension via autopen.
The approved provisions include:
- Section 206, which allows roving wiretap surveillance of targets who change the location, computer or phone that is to be monitored;
- Section 215, which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation to issue orders granting the government access to any tangible items in foreign intelligence, international terrorism or clandestine intelligence cases during the course of surveillance; and
- Section 6001, referred to as the "lone wolf" provision, which allows law enforcement to track individual terrorists that are not affiliated with a specific group.
Late Thursday afternoon Paul reached a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Under the agreement, the Senate voted on two amendments proposed by Paul-one limiting "suspicious activity" reporting requirements under the Act to requests from law enforcement agencies and the other exempting certain gun records from being searched under the counterterrorism surveillance law.
Both of Paul's amendments failed.