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Senators Threaten to Hold Up Patriot Act|
Nov 17 1:21 PM US/Eastern
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By JESSE J. HOLLAND
Associated Press Writer
A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination Senate-mandated protections against "unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance" in a House-Senate compromise.
"If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law," GOP Sens. Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold and Ken Salazar said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
This came a day after House-Senate negotiators crafted a tentative compromise to make most provisions of the existing law permanent, and set new seven-year sunsets for rules on wiretapping, obtaining business records under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and new standards for monitoring "lone wolf" terrorists who may be operating independent of a foreign agent or power.
Congress is facing two deadlines: lawmakers want to leave before the end of the week for Thanksgiving, and more than a dozen provisions of the Patriot Act expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn't renew them.
The Republican-controlled House hopes to approve the compromise on Friday, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., told senators Thursday they will have to address the legislation "before we leave."