An amendment that would have prohibited government authorities from using the USA Patriot Act to get information on library users and book buyers failed on the House floor yesterday. The proposed amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill needed a majority to pass, but received only a tie vote of 210 to 210.
The amendment, supported by conservative Republicans, Democrats, and Independent Bernard Sanders, initially received enough votes to pass. House leaders, however, held the floor vote open for 23 minutes beyond the usual 15 minutes for a roll call vote. During that time, 10 Republicans changed their votes to no, resulting in the tie.
While I'm pleased to see bipartisan support for amending the Patriot Act, I'm very sorry to see that it failed. And I can't help but noticing that it was ten Republicans that chickened out when their names were going to be attached to it by a roll call vote.
I've seen such procedural weaseling before, back in my college debate society, and at the time, it was the conservatives (yet again) manipulating parliamentary procedure to their advantage. Apparently, some things never change. :p