On Thursday, Congress passed the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act and President Obama signed it electronically, just prior to the sunset date of May 27th. The reauthorization included no reforms to three sections of concern to libraries—Section 215 known as the library provision, lone wolf and wire tap. The new sunset date for the PATRIOT Act is four years from now on June 1, 2015. Several amendments were considered, which is encouraging, but they all failed. Thank you for all of your advocacy efforts. The votes in both the Senate and the House did not fall strictly along party lines. Further analysis of the votes will come from the American Library Association (ALA) at a later time.
Several Senators, including Senator Cardin, have introduced a new bill, S 1125, the USA PATRIOT ACT Improvements Act of 2011, to attempt to make some needed changes. ALA will release more information about this bill after further review.
For more information, please see the District Dispatch posting.
S 1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, may be voted on soon, before the May 27th sunset date. The bill sets the new expiration date of 2015 for three provisions—Section 215 known as the “library provision,” the roving wire taps and the lone wolf. The American Library Association (ALA) opposes this bill without amendment.
ALA does support the following amendments:
- Senator Rand Paul’s amendment to return Section 215 to its pre-2001 form and protect the privacy of library users is ideal.
- Senator Patrick Leahy and Rand Paul’s amendment to add reforms from Senator Leahy’s bill, S 193, is good because it includes improved reader privacy protections.
- If nothing else, amend the bill to include a sunset in 2013, rather than 2015, to allow for meaningful debate on these issues to occur sooner.
For more details on these amendments and ALA’s endorsement, please see the District Dispatch posting for details on why ALA supports this change.
Please contact Senators Mikulski and Cardin asking for their support of these amendments. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.
On Friday, the House defeated Conyers Amendment #524 to HR 1, the Continuing Resolution for the FY2011 Budget. It would have made improvements to reader privacy in Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
Additionally, both the House and Senate passed a bill to extend the sunset of three provisions of the PATRIOT Act that were set to expire soon. These provisions, one of which is Section 215, will now expire at the end of May 2011. The president is expected to sign the bill. This will allow another three months of debate over improvements, such as those in Amendment #524.
For a few more details, see the District Dispatch posting.
Published February 16, 2011
advocacy , Federal
Tags: Action Alert, Amendment 35, Budget, Continuing Resolution, Conyers, Conyers Amendment, FISA, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Funding, FY2011, IMLS, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Library Services and Technology Act, LSTA, Section 215
2/17/2011 UPDATE – Amendment #35 (IMLS & LSTA budget cut) defeated! View the update.
2/18/2011 UPDATE – Conyers Amendment (#524, PATRIOT Act revision to halt funding to FISA orders for library and bookstore records) was also defeated. View the update.
Congress is now working on a Continuing Resolution for the FY2011 budget. The current Continuing Resolution for the FY2011 budget is set to expire on March 4th. There are two amendments that impact libraries that require action:
- IMLS & LSTA funding – Amendment #35 would eliminate all funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding. Please contact your representative in the House and ask him/her to OPPOSE Amendment #35. What does a total loss of LSTA funding mean for Maryland? The staff at the Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS) will be cut in half. There will be no grant money for the Summer Reading Club and AskUsNow. You can view a complete list of what Maryland will lose.
- Funding for FISA orders seeking library and bookstore records – Conyers’ amendment would halt all funding for these Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders. Please contact your representative in the House and ask him/her to SUPPORT this amendment.
Please contact your representative regarding these two amendments. A Capwiz Action Alert is available, including more details and talking points. It also includes a pre-written letter that you may edit to personalize the message. Feel free to use the complete list to show the impact a total loss of LSTA funding would have on Maryland’s libraries.
Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide!
The House will vote again next week on HR 514 to extend the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. HR 514 failed to pass on February 8th because it did not get a 2/3 majority vote—a requirement of bills on the suspension calendar. The vote next week will be under normal rules and will require only a simple majority in order to pass.
The American Library Association (ALA) is asking people to contact members of the House and ask them to vote against HR 514 and instead support S 290, which includes preferred proposed changes. You may use Capwiz to do so. (ALA is also asking people to contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding S 290, but Maryland has no members on this committee.)
See the earlier posting for the voting record of Maryland’s representatives and links to additional information. Updated information on this scheduled new vote is available on the District Dispatch. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!
Last night, the House voted on HR 514—a bill to extend, with no changes, the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 until December 8, 2011. The bill did not pass.
Maryland’s delegation had an interesting split on the vote:
- For: Harris, Ruppersberger, Hoyer and Van Hollen
- Against: Sarbanes, Edwards, Bartlett, Sarbanes
Background information on this bill and issue from the American Library Association (ALA), as well as details on S 290 (a version of the bill that is supported by ALA) are available.