On Thursday, Congress passed a four year extension of the PATRIOT Act. Lawmakers rejected all attempts to moderate aspects of the legislation that weaken the Fourth Amendment.
Obama used an auto pen machine from France to sign the extension. Provisions of the PATRIOT Act were set to expire at midnight.
Congress would have signed the extension earlier if not for the efforts of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who opposes the extension on constitutional grounds, specifically its violations of the Fourth Amendment.
In addition, Paul proposed an amendment that would have placed restrictions on the government’s ability to obtain gun purchase records. It was defeated 85-10. His second amendment, limiting banks on their reporting of suspicious financial transactions, was rejected 91-4.
“We dissolve from within when we give up our liberties,” Paul warned. “Millions of innocent citizens are having their records looked at.”
“It’s an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat,” Obama said after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed to strip the extension of any amendments.
“The Speaker supports this common-sense proposal because this law has been crucial to detecting and disrupting terrorist plots and protecting the American people,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.