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Patriot Act Renewal: 40 Minutes Debate Before a Mostly Empty House

Patriot Act Debate in the House of Representatives, February 8, 2011: Sheila Jackson Lee stands before a mostly empty HouseWith a vote on H.R. 514 expected this evening, the USA Patriot Act is up for renewal. Reauthorization of the law, which infringes upon Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights by allowing surveillance of individuals engaged in protected First Amendment activities, was granted only 40 minutes of debate this afternoon. The reauthorization bill had no committee consideration (even though it was referred to two committees), and no amendments will be permitted. Not that too many members of Congress cared: during the perfunctory debate this afternoon, the House chamber was mostly empty.

While the powers of an American police state are reaffirmed, Congress shuffles along with no more than a shrug.

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