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Patriot Act renewal negotiations reach stalemate

[JURIST] Efforts to reach an agreement on a long-term renewal of the USA Patriot Act [PDF text; JURIST news archive] appear stalled as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner [official website], the House's chief negotiator, has said his chamber is finished negotiating. Sixteen key provisions [DOJ report, PDF] of the were set to expire at the end of last year. Members of Congress were unable to reach an agreement [JURIST report] on a long-term extension before Christmas, and instead passed a one-month extension [JURIST report] set to expire February 3. Senate Democrats and four Republican senators are pressing for more civil liberties protections to be incorporated in the renewal legislation, but Sensenbrenner has said that the proposal in December's conference report [PDF text] provides adequate safeguards [committee materials]. Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter [official website] said Tuesday that there are likely only two options at this point: the conference report or another short-term extension. Republican Sen. John Sununu [official website], one of the four who have joined Senate Democrats in opposition to the conference report, said however that discussions with the Bush administration on possible changes are continuing. Wednesday's Washington Post has more.

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