Thursday, July 08, 2004

Big Brother's Watching

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's reading habits.

The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but GOP leaders kept the vote open for 23 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes.

"Shame, shame, shame,'' Democrats chanted as the minutes passed and votes were switched. The tactic was reminiscent of last year's House passage of the Medicare overhaul measure, when GOP leaders held the vote open for an extra three hours until they got the votes they needed.

"You win some, and some get stolen,'' Rep. C.L. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, a sponsor of the defeated provision and one of Congress' more conservative members, told a reporter.

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