With very little time left on the clock to save the Patriot Act from expiring on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had to work some procedural gymnastics to get past Sen. Rand Paul's many objections (and amendments), as well as a number of members in his own party.
Sen. Reid basically killed his current bill and and opted to take up a House small business bill (it's in a form that's considered filibuster-proof as far as starting debate goes). Neither Rand Paul nor anyone else can object to this. Reid then amended the House bill with the entire text of the Patriot Act extension.
In doing so, Sen. Reid has essentially extended the Patriot Act although there are some steps that must still take place; it will be likely Thursday before a cloture vote can occur. It's unclear whether Reid can get to final passage in time, but these things have a way of working themselves out.
Even with the extension, it seems very likely the Patriot Act will expire for a very brief period of time. The House must take it up and pass it - and President Obama isn't even back until Saturday.