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Bipartisan group of senators to oppose Patriot Act revision

WJACTV | December 8 2005

A bipartisan group of senators -- including three Republicans -- have said they will not support a deal between House and Senate negotiators on extension of the Patriot Act, RAW STORY has learned.

The agreement will keep in place controversial provisions such as the ability of U.S. officials to pry into Americans' library records and to authorize "roving wiretaps." The Senate version of the bill had been less aggressive.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) says he will filibuster the new agreement. The six senators opposing the conference report are: Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Sen. John Sununu (R-NH).

An aide to one of the lawmakers said that Sen. Craig is also considering filibustering the bill. Craig, like the other senators, is concerned about the bill's affect on individual rights.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said he didn't think there would be a filibuster.

"I don't think there will be a filibuster," Specter said. "I don't think it will succeed if there is one."

The statement from the group of six senators follows.

“We are gravely disappointed that the conference committee made so few changes to the Patriot Act reauthorization package that was circulated before the Thanksgiving recess. As we said then, we cannot support a conference report that does not contain modest but critical improvements, similar to those in the Senate-passed bill, to the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act. We indicated before Thanksgiving that we would oppose a conference report like the one filed in the House today, and we believe many of our colleagues will join us.

Back in July, we supported a bipartisan compromise reauthorization bill that passed the Senate by unanimous consent. While that bill did not contain everything we would have wanted, it took important steps to protect the freedoms of innocent Americans. By insisting that modest protections for civil liberties be excluded from the conference report, the conferees bear responsibility for any possibility that some provisions of the Patriot Act could expire this year.

The sunsets this year provide our best opportunity to make the meaningful changes to the Patriot Act that the American public has demanded. We believe that this conference report will not be able to get through the Senate, while the Senate bill would easily pass the House if its leadership would bring it to a vote. We call on our House colleagues to reject this conference report, and to take up and pass the Senate compromise bill. We still can — and must — make sure that our laws give law enforcement agents the tools they need while providing safeguards to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

Correction: Sen. Larry Craig hails from Idaho.

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