It appears more than likely now that the Patriot Act -- the law that allows enforcement agencies to monitor phone calls, emails, and financial records and eases restrictions on intelligence gathering -- will expire without a renewal before 11:59:59 pm ET Thursday, because of trouble in the Senate.

There was talk the Senate might try to do a seven-day extension, but it's unlikely Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., can get that through the Senate.


The House has to wait for the Senate. And it now appears that the House will vote on a full renewal Friday.

That means there could be a lapse.

Is there a problem with a lapse?

Statue allows the government to continue to eavesdrop on current suspects. However, during the lapse, the government couldn't start surveillance on new subjects.