Deserting and embarrassing their GOP House leadership, 26 Republicans–including several members of the Tea Party Caucus–bolted Tuesday night to join Democrats in a surprise rejection of a centerpiece of Bush-era powers to fight terrorism that curbed American civil liberties.
The House Republican leaders had expected an easy victory in their efforts to reauthorize three expiring powers under the PATRIOT Act–among them, allowing ”roving wiretaps” and searches of people’s medical, banking, and library records. It is likely the GOP will succeed in a later vote, but Tuesday night’s rebuff sent a strong message.
By a 277-148 margin, the bill fell just shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House under suspension of the rules, representing somewhat of an embarrassment for House Republicans on a matter of national security.
In addition to losing the floor vote on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, the Republican House majority has had to deal with the sudden resignation of Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY), who resigned after it was revealed that he sent suggestive photographs of himself shirtless to a woman (other than his wife) that he met on the Internet.
No doubt it’s been a bad week for John Boehner.