Reporting from Washington — The Republican-led House on Monday passed a short-term extension of expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, temporarily bypassing opposition from conservative and "tea party"-inspired lawmakers as Congress seeks to avoid a lapse in the terrorist surveillance program at month's end.
The Obama administration prefers a longer extension through 2013, as proposed in the Senate, but that legislation is likely to face resistance in the House, where GOP leaders were blindsided last week after conservatives joined Democrats to defeat it. Opponents see it as an overreach of federal authority into private lives.
Congress has until Feb. 28 to extend the expiring provisions of law enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The House voted 275-144 to continue the provisions through Dec. 8. The Senate is expected to take up the bill before the end of the month.
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate want to extend the provisions permanently, and revisiting the issue in December would interject it into the 2012 presidential race. But a permanent extension faces an uphill climb in Congress.