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House of Representatives Votes to Extend Patriot Act

They tried last week and failed.

Now it’s good to go.

The House of Representatives Monday night approved a nine-month extension of the Patriot Act after rejecting the same proposal a week ago.

What’s strange is that an overwhelming number of lawmakers voted in favor of the renewal last week. But House Republicans brought the measure to the floor under a procedure that requires two-thirds of those voting to be in favor of a bill for it to pass. Last week, 277 lawmakers voted yea. But that fell just short of the required two-thirds threshold.

Finding a supermajority wasn’t a problem Monday night as the House considered the bill under regular rules that mandate just a simple majority for passage.

This bill cruised to approval, 275 to 144.

Last week’s vote surprised many lawmakers, with some not even aware the House was considering it under special, expedited rules.

“Clearly we wanted to see the bill passed,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) when asked to defend his method of summoning the Patriot Act renewal to the floor last week.

Lawmakers crafted the Patriot Act in response to the September 11th attacks.

The Patriot Act extensions deal with special “roving” wiretaps, which allow law enforcement officials to use one search warrant to monitor a suspect’s calls, even if he or she skips from phone to phone. Traditional search warrants only apply to a single telephone line. The bill also grants anti-terrorism officials the authority to search library records.

The Senate still has to act before the bill expires in a few weeks.