[JURIST] Sixteen key sections [CRS backgrounder, PDF] of the Patriot Act [JURIST news archive] came closer to year-end expiration Friday as the Republican leadership in the US Senate failed [Senate roll call] to get the votes of three-fifths of the chamber's membership necessary to invoke cloture [Senate backgrounder] on a proposed conference compromise [report text; text of HR 3199, PDF] that would have renewed and in most cases permanently entrenched them in law, leaving open the possibility of a Democratic filibuster. Prior to the cloture vote, Senators rejected an alternative proposal introduced by Minority Leader Harry Reid that would have extended the controversial Act for only a further three months [Sen. Leahy floor statement] pending a revised agreement on extension. Supporters of the conference compromise stressed that it provides not merely for extension, but for new safeguards protecting civil liberties. Critics insisted that it still presented too much of a threat to privacy and rights to be sustained in current form. AP has more.
1:30 PM ET - Following the vote, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy said at a news conference that he regretted the lack of true consensus on the conference compromise and suggested that progress towards renewal of the expiring Patriot Act provisions might still be made before the Senate adjourns for the holidays next week:
Checks and balances, judicial review and congressional oversight are vital ingredients in ensuring that new powers given to government are used, and never abused. It is all the more understandable why the American people have increasingly seen it this way too, when you pick up the paper on a day like today and read about eavesdropping on Americans without court approval.Read the full text of Leahy's statement.
Our goal has been to mend the PATRIOT Act, not to end it. The best solution is to just fix the bill. We can do that before we adjourn next week, if theyll let us. I am ready at this moment, and as long as it takes, to work to make this a better bill, and a consensus bill.
2:45 PM ET - Reuters now has more.