WASHINGTON – The Senate has voted decisively to extend the legal life of three contentious terrorism-fighting powers that are set to expire at midnight without congressional action.
The 72-23 Senate vote sends the legislation to the House, which is expected to pass it quickly and transmit it to President Barack Obama for his signature.
It extends two provisions of the 2001 USA Patriot Act, one allowing for roving wiretaps and the other allowing searches of business records in the pursuit of terrorist threats. A third provision gives the government power to watch non-American "lone wolf" suspects with no certain ties to terrorist groups.
All three provisions are viewed as valuable tools by law enforcement officials but are opposed by some who say they can lead to privacy right abuses.