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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Newsflash: Tea Party didn't kill Patriot Act

By Adam Serwer

Yesterday, a vote on reauthorizing three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act failed after most Democrats and a few Republicans voted against it. So does the vote represent a new Tea Party revolt against big government? Hardly. Republicans hate the welfare state, not the surveillance state. 

Only 26 Republicans voted against the bill, and there are 52 members of the Republican Tea Party Caucus, whose chairperson, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn)  voted for reauthorization along with most of the rest of her caucus. As Slate's Dave Weigel  points out, only eight of the 26 were Republican freshmen elected last November. One hundred and twenty-two Democrats voted against reauthorization, I suspect most of them just because they could.

So how did the bill fail? Basically Republicans were trying to pass the bill under "suspension of the rules," which is considered the process for passing "noncontroversial" legislation.  You need a two thirds majority of those present to pass bills that way. For one brief night, Republicans in the House learned what it was like to be a Democrat in the Senate. 

Sadly, the revolt probably won't last, as there are more than the 218 votes needed to pass reauthorization under normal procedures. What's uncertain is whether the reauthorization will contain mild oversight provisions, and when the provisions will actually sunset. As Cato's Julian Sanchez notes, there are two Democratic Senate versions that reauthorize these provisions for three years, but the Republican House version sunsets them until December 2011, while the Republican Senate proposal makes them permanent. Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy's  version of the bill would reign in Section 215 orders and provide some key oversight over the use of the widely abused National Security Letters, but those modest reforms were too much for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), so she introduced an alternate bill without them.

The Republican House version places reauthorization right in the middle of presidential primary season, while the Democratic versions kick the can down the road three years. That means that we might be looking forward to the Republican candidates' positions on the Patriot Act becoming an issue, which may lead to some irresponsible grandstanding about the necessity of passing the Patriot Act without any meaningful oversight. Remember "double Guantanamo?"

By Adam Serwer  | February 9, 2011; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, House GOPers, Tea Party  
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Comments

Republicans love the surveillance state and want to use government to make sure every woman carries a baby to term.

Small and less intrusive government anyone?

Posted by: Alex3 | February 9, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"One hundred and twenty-two Democrats voted against reauthorization, I suspect most of them just because they could."

Damn obstructionists!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 9, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"Hardly. Republicans hate the welfare state, not the surveillance state."

Keep in mind that President Obama seems to be fine with the surveillance state as well:

"The White House said in a statement Tuesday that it "does not object" to extending the three Patriot Act provisions until December. However, it added, the administration "would strongly prefer" an extension until December 2013, noting that the longer timeline "provides the necessary certainty and predictability" that law enforcement agencies require while at the same time ensuring that Congress can continue to review the law's effectiveness."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/08/AR2011020806345.html

Posted by: jnc4p | February 9, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Repubs are starting to resembles Dems...
Q. What is a Repub?
A. What would you like it to be, today?

Posted by: FauxSnooze | February 9, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Note... INDEPENDENTS object to the "welfare state" (but not necessary welfare.)

It is the fault Democratic Party that they failed to keep the massive advantage they briefly had among Independents when Obama was selling himself during the campaign as an end to "politics as ususal".

The "Tea Party" is largely a construct of independents CURRENTLY aligned with the Republicans. ...but there is no formal leadership or organization there. We ARE, afterall, independent.

What do we have against a "welfare state"? It turns citizens into slaves of the state over time through fostering a life of dependency rather than self-reliance.

We would rather see welfare managed face to face between citizens at a local level. Food banks, church based soup kitchens and housing, etc. work much better because every human in need responds to a friendly face, lifting themselves up to also become charitable and loving citizens of the society, offering help to those less fortunate.

When an impersonal bureaucracy hands out money, there is no love or charity involved. The recipient (rightfully) develops a sence that they are being bought off by rich and selfish folk that would rather the government warehouse the poor (and keep them down and quiet) rather than actually working to improve their lot in life.

Want a better world? Don't think you can contract your share of the responsibility to the government. Do you part independent of the government and YOU will be able to take pride and grow pride in those you help.

Posted by: Karl_Quick | February 9, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"Keep in mind that President Obama seems to be fine with the surveillance state as well"

Sadly true, but he wasn't running on a platform of smaller less intrusive government.

So Republicans can't be trusted to keep their word? Jobs, jobs, jobs?

Posted by: Alex3 | February 9, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Karl-

Thanks for the report from la la land.

I personally don't want hundreds of thousands, if not millions of folks relying on "charity" when they need healthcare or when the markets don't pay them enough.

Your mileage obviously varies...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 9, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

All, greatest Tea Party delusion yet:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/the_rights_delusions_of_world-.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 9, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, where are the jobs? I mean, this was what Rs ran on, wasn' it? where are the bills? where are the plans? we've had a number of bills about nothing but abortion, for instance -- where are the jobs there?

Rep. Darrel Issa is talking about subpoenaing all the names and records for every Freedom of Information Act request -- any jobs there?

Then there is Rep. Peter King who wants to hold the new McCarthy hearings. Are you, or have you ever been, a Muslim? Any jobs there?

So, with all seriousness, Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs? When do we get a jobs plan from the Republicans? What is it exactly that redefining rape and limiting abortion rights is doing to put our 15 millin plus unemployed citizens back to work?"

Posted by: fiona5 | February 9, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@fiona: ""Yes, where are the jobs? I mean, this was what Rs ran on, wasn' it?""

Well, first, it's only been a month. I think it would take longer to see a difference. But . . .

They may have ran on jobs, but there are no magic "job creation" buttons in DC. They are at the mercy of long-term trends and global markets and so on and so on, just like Obama. They may have promised jobs but there's no way to magically deliver the necessary demand and innovation to create them. Especially in the space of a few months.

"Rep. Darrel Issa is talking about subpoenaing all the names and records for every Freedom of Information Act request -- any jobs there?"

Well, he might make some special prosecutor very happy. That guy would have to hire a staff. It'll keep some lawyers employed.

"Then there is Rep. Peter King who wants to hold the new McCarthy hearings. Are you, or have you ever been, a Muslim? Any jobs there?"

Rent a mob protesters could find themselves employed. ACLU lawyers might pick up some more cases. CAIR will have to buy some TV time, gets some ads done . . . that might employee a few people.

"So, with all seriousness, Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs?"

He's personally saved the jobs of dozens of people and several different spray-on tan spas. And kept at least one Phillip Morris middle-management type employed.

"When do we get a jobs plan from the Republicans?"

That's an interesting question. It will be interesting to see if anybody other than Paul Ryan comes up with anything.

"What is it exactly that redefining rape and limiting abortion rights is doing to put our 15 millin plus unemployed citizens back to work?"

I think their first goal is to keep themselves employed.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 9, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The problem is, people loyal to either party often give their politicians a pass, especially when it comes to complex and often hard to understand legislation. Mainstream Repubs didn't get worked into a frenzy when Bush Sr. invoked the Orwellian "New World Order" idea in his speech, and not officially declaring war after starting Iraq 1.0.
Likewise Mainstream Dems didn't throw a tissy fit under Clinton's reign when his military ran supposed Terrorism Readiness exercises testing how the "troops" could handle crowd control using paid "actors" as US Citizens that were victims of mock attacks...which would be a clear violation of Posse Comitatus.
Republicans AND Democrats have passed and renewed the so-called Patriot Act. To imply the Tea Party only has Republicans is missing the point.
Alternative parties like the Libertarian and Green Parties have failed.
The Tea Party is a mixture of different political viewpoints, all who agree there are many freedoms which have been trampled on or lost in America, partially because of Bureaucracies and partially because both sides of the Two Party system have become a bit too cozy with each other.

Posted by: SavageNation | February 9, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

All true, Adam. However, some of the Tea Partiers really are libertarian-ish and there is a good opportunity for liberal Dems to forge alliances with them on civil rights questions.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 9, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Just to let you know: The backlash from the freedom movement within the Tea Party has been furious.

I know you statists will celebrate any rift in the Tea Party movement. We don't care. Any 'Tea Party' politician that supports direct violation of the fourth and fifth amendments will find themselves on the wrong end of the deal. We defeat Republicans who are squishy on rights. Last November was just the first wave. Make the most of it while you can.

We prefer the risk of retribution from enraged victims of our foreign policy (which we'd like to stop them from doing, too) to the imposition of tyranny on our own land. If we lose, you get what you want (and so richly deserve). Perpetual war and nanny state checking your underpants.

The old left/right controlled show is over.

Posted by: HankRearden_JohnGalt | February 9, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Hank and Savage-

Please post a common Tea Party platform that is democratically agreed upon.

Otherwise...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 9, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Who was the bloc of Democrats that voted in favor of reauthorization? Blue Dogs?

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 9, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Contessa Brewer from MSNBC just had a guy from Politico on, who called this a big victory for teapartiers. He wondered what the teapartiers would do next with their great power.
Brewer isn't very sharp, and neither was the guy from Politico.

Posted by: olieolie | February 9, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Alternative parties like the Libertarian and Green Parties have failed."

I think all three parties -- Libertarian, Green and Tea -- largely agree on civil rights questions.

"The Tea Party is a mixture of different political viewpoints"

I really haven't seen much of that. Nearly all the TPers I've seen hate the Democratic Party and liberals.

"all who agree there are many freedoms which have been trampled on or lost in America"

Can't argue with that.

"partially because of Bureaucracies"

Maybe.

"and partially because both sides of the Two Party system have become a bit too cozy with each other."

I agree, though I'd say the parties are a bit too "similar" more than a bit too "cozy."

Posted by: wbgonne | February 9, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I also want to know where is the focus on jobs that Republicans promised. The House is meeting only one day this week. That is not a government at work to face the problems of Americans in this recession.

Where's the focus on jobs, Speaker Boehner?

Posted by: Beeliever | February 9, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I love the hypocrisy on the Patriot Act.

How come Obama keeps wanting to reauthorize it?

I thought Bush was "shredding the constitution" and hero Obama was going to save us?

Posted by: Cryos | February 9, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

ChuckinDenton

"I personally don't want hundreds of thousands, if not millions of folks relying on "charity" when they need healthcare or when the markets don't pay them enough."

Neither do independents... I for one want the vast majority of people to be happily employed, proud of the value they can bring to the civilization. Charity should only be needed 10-20% of the time and should be available to all as necessary, raising most of the recipients to the point where they themselves can contribute.

Certainly you are not claiming there is some "stigma" with receiving charity that does not exist when receiving welfare, are you? We all need a helping hand from others no matter who we are... it should be viewed as a blessing, not a curse. It sould be taken as such and responded to as such... bringing more blessings to our civilization.

It saves no ego or pride by pretending that the recipient is a victum of some evil forces in the world... especially if addressig that victumhood merely reinforces it rather than converts the suffering into triumph.

Ask yourself why those markets don't pay enough and those in need of healthcare can't afford it. If the economy was thriving and every person felt that they had something of value to contribute, welfare as it exists today would not be necessary. When the tax burdon exceeds the rewards anyone feels for being productive, it is human nature to shut down. We've reached that point.

Posted by: Karl_Quick | February 9, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Funny seeing posts from people claiming to be tea party members and making statements about a platform as though the TP actually as a coherent set of positions, and a consensus. It has neither.

Didn't see any tea party when Bush was exploding deficits and authorizing torture and roving wiretaps.

The TP came into existence and continues solely as a reaction to seeing a dark face behind the presidential seal.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 9, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

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