Update: Feb. 17, the House of Representatives joined their colleagues in the Senate and voted to extend the legal authority of three Patriot Act provisions for 90 days. The president is expected to sign the bill before the provisions expire on Feb. 28. The three month extension until May 27 gives Congress additional time to debate the surveillance provisions that have been criticized for violated privacy rights.
To allow more time to debate three expiring Patriot Act provisions, the Senate voted to pass a 90 day extension on Feb. 15, 2011. This comes just one day after the House had voted to extend the surveillance provisions until Dec. 8. The Senate’s version will now go to the House. If Congress does not act, the provisions would expire on Feb. 28.
In the run up to the deadline, several lawmakers have called for further debate to offer amendments and increase civil liberty safeguards. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said in a statement that the extension provides an "opportunity to explain why the Constitution is being violated. We should talk about how we do not have to give up who we are in order to fight terrorism. It is not acceptable to willfully ignore the most basic provisions of our Constitution—in this case—the Fourth and First Amendments—in the name of security.”