Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arrive to a joint session of the U.S. Congress with U.S. President Donald Trump on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Handing Trump 'Terrifying Authoritarian Surveillance Powers,' House Democrats Include Patriot Act Reauthorization in Funding Bill

"Wow. House Democrats are ignoring civil liberties and including a three month straight reauthorization of the Patriot Act (with zero reform) in the continuing resolution."

Jake Johnson, staff writer

Buried in a stopgap government funding resolution unveiled by House Democrats Monday is a provision that would reauthorize the notoriously abusive Patriot Act for three months, a move privacy advocates warned would ensure President Donald Trump's administration holds on to "terrifying authoritarian surveillance powers."

Evan Greer, deputy director of digital rights group Fight for the Future, highlighted the provision on Twitter shortly after House Democrats released the continuing resolution (pdf), which would temporarily avert a looming government shutdown by providing funding for federal agencies through December 20. A House vote on the measure is expected as early as Tuesday.

"Wow," said Greer. "House Democrats are ignoring civil liberties and including a three month straight re-authorization of the Patriot Act (with zero reform) in the continuing resolution."

"When the Patriot Act's surveillance authorities were initially enacted, they came with a 'sunset' clause to safeguard against the exact scenario where we had an authoritarian, racist, openly fascist president," Greer added. "And yet here we are and top Dems are still supporting reauthorization."

The provision, which appears on the second-to-last page of the funding measure, quickly drew outrage from advocacy groups and vows of opposition from a few House lawmakers.

"Yeah that's gonna be a no from me," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Hours later, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) echoed her colleague: "Yeah... no. Count me out."

While the Patriot Act provision received virtually no attention in the media—reporting on the continuing resolution in NPR, Politico, Roll Call, and CNBC did not mention it—advocacy groups ramped up calls for House Democrats to reverse course.

"The continuing resolution would reauthorize a mass surveillance authority that has never been proven useful and that has consistently broken the laws and rules governing surveillance," tweeted Demand Progress. "Democrats must not hand this president these dangerous Patriot Act authorities."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Biden Urged to Embrace Top Democrat's Call to End Deadly US Sanctions Against Venezuela

"The terrible suffering and death that Venezuela has experienced in recent years is overwhelmingly a result of economic collapse and deprivation caused by U.S. sanctions."

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·


Nina Turner Kicks Off '$27 Dollar Donation Challenge' After Hillary Clinton Endorses Establishment Candidate in Ohio

"While the establishment is doing everything they can to stop our movement," the progressive candidate said, "we will continue elevating the issues."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Progressives Push for High-Speed Rail Funding in Infrastructure Deal

"This is part of our overall goal to create millions of union jobs in the United States of America building climate infrastructure to bring down our carbon emissions, save our future, and improve our quality of life."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


'Great News': Biden Backs 2002 AUMF Repeal as Schumer Announces Vote on Repeal

"This marks the first time in memory that a president has called for the repeal of a war authorization, a significant step towards ending the forever wars."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Unions Demand Pelosi and Schumer Include Lower Medicare Age, Drug Pricing Reform in Infrastructure Plan

"Now is the time for action to lower drug prices and improve access to care for millions."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·