Lisa Mascaro wrote the following for The Los Angeles Times:
The Republican-led House failed to pass an extension of expiring sections of the Patriot Act on Tuesday, an unexpected setback for GOP leaders that shows the difficulty they face in controlling their majority and its "tea party"-inspired members.Like the many times when Democrats could not pass legislation even though they held sizeable majorities and Republicans ran to the press to claim Democratic ineffectiveness, Democrats need to do the same thing and talk about how the GOP is fractitious and cannot accomplish anything. They need to emphasize how they helped protect American freedoms before the tea party try to claim ownership of killing the Patriot Act.
Time is short: Key provisions of the terrorist surveillance law expire at the end of the month. A coalition of veteran conservative Republicans and new GOP lawmakers joined many Democrats in blocking passage of the measure, which many tea party activists see as federal government overreaching into private affairs.
The bill required a two-thirds vote to pass but fell seven votes short. Now, the White House and congressional leaders must devise a new strategy, and fast, or the provisions will lapse Feb. 28. The administration wants to extend the Sept. 11-era provisions through 2013. The House bill would have extended them until Dec. 8.
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