And just hours before the vote on the Bush-era homeland security measure, GOP leaders yanked a trade bill from consideration as the Ways and Means Committee is “working through issues.”
Republican leaders will bring the bill back to the floor under a rule, where it will almost certainly secure the 218-vote threshold.
It was a specifically rough patch for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was the subject of much finger-pointing after the vote, as he is charged with vote-counting. Erica Elliott, spokesman for McCarthy, noted that most House Democrats voted against the bill, “deny[ing] their own administration’s request for key weapons in the war on terror.”
Other Republicans blamed Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) for the debacle. Sensenbrenner is a senior Judiciary Committee Republican.
Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office had no comment on the trade bill or Patriot Act failure. He did not vote, which is somewhat of a tradition for the speaker. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and McCarthy voted for the Patriot Act extension.
The Patriot Act has long been a contentious issue on Capitol Hill. It was passed shortly after Sept. 11 to give the government expanded surveillance powers, while breaking down barriers between the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies.
But many — ranging from liberals like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), to libertarians like Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) — have long expressed concerns over the sweeping breadth of the legislation. Kucinich called Tuesday’s vote a “significant defeat,” adding that it will “fuel opposition” to the measure nationwide.