UPDATE! It’s not over yet. We have a real chance at debate and consideration of the Paul Amendments if we can get GOP leaders on board by Thursday evening. Please call Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at (202) 224-2541 and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl at (202) 224-4521 right now. Or call them again if you have already!
After the debate and amendments to the PATRIOT Act were shut down by a cloture vote in the Senate late Monday, today Senator Rand Paul (RLC-KY) carried out a heroic seven-hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate to buy time to fight back against the proposed four-year extension of the PATRIOT Act. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other leaders in the House and Senate still don’t want to hear debate or consider amendments to the bill, but we now have another day to put pressure on the Senate and probably two more days to try to influence House members.
For a report on Senator Paul’s filibuster see the coverage in The Hill, which explains the details of the procedural process which the PATRIOT Act will now have to go through before it gets renewed. You should also visit Senator Paul’s website for a summary of what is in his proposed amendments to the PATRIOT Act. While it would be ideal to see the PATRIOT Act disposed of once and for all, the proposed amendments offer a compromise which would address some of the worst violations of civil liberties in the PATRIOT Act while not fully repealing it. The protections for gun owners privacy and other fourth amendment rights are particularly important.
We wouldn’t normally send out another email so quickly on an activism issue like this, but events are moving incredibly fast and there’s a real opportunity to have an influence. Many Senators and Representatives are on the fence. On Monday our calls and emails convinced several Senators to change their votes and there are reports that many House members are also wavering. In his weekly newsletter Representative Allen West wrote:
“Let me make myself clear, there is no one more focused on the security of the United States, but I also believe in preserving the liberty of our citizens. The record checks and roving wiretap provisions cause me concern, resulting from my research and query of local and federal law enforcement officers. Over the coming days, I will be reviewing documents to make a careful assessment so I can determine my support or opposition to this further extension to the PATRIOT Act.”
Like others he is aware of the public concern over the PATRIOT Act and he appears ready to be convinced to do the right thing and vote to restore our Fourth Amendment rights.
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I hope you can take time to call and email your Senators and Representatives on Wednesday morning. Ask them to demand that the leadership allow debate to take place and amendments to be considered in both the Senate and House. Edmund Burke wrote that “All government – indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act – is founded on compromise and barter.” The proposed PATRIOT Act amendments are a reasonable compromise to offer to those Congressmen who are not ready to fully oppose renewal.
If you have time, please also email Sen. Paul or call his office at 202-224-4343 to express your support for his heroic efforts on this issue.