The U.S. Senate, in a rebuff to its Republican leaders and President George W. Bush, refused to clear the way for renewal of the anti-terror USA Patriot Act.
The Senate fell seven votes short of shutting off a filibuster that threatens to block an extension of much of the law, including expanded power for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bush has called for approval of the measure, saying it is vital in preventing terrorist attacks.
The vote was the second legislative setback for Bush in as many days. Yesterday, Bush reversed course and accepted a ban on torture crafted by Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican.
Today's development left in doubt the immediate future of the Patriot Act, which was first enacted soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist insisted he wasn't giving up and repeated his opposition to a three-month extension of the act.Good to see Frist back to playing White House lapdog on the issue. Every time a reactionary fundamentalist's run for the presidency goes ka-blooey, an angel gets its wings.