Sunday, June 9, 2013

Which 19 Democrats opposed extending the PATRIOT Act in 2005 but then supported it in 2011?

Over the past few days, I've been looking at old roll call votes on security state issues in order to discern which members of Congress have been resolute defenders of civil liberties, which have been resolute opponents, and which have been partisans or opportunists.

In light of the NSA exposes, some of our elected officials have been pushing for increased transparency and protection of privacy rights. Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed his intention to challenge the NSA's spying operations in court. Mark Udall (D-CO) called for a reopening of the debate around the PATRIOT Act:
That’s why I’m calling for a reopening of the PATRIOT Act, I’m calling for a wholesome debate across the country. Maybe Americans think this is okay, but I think the line has been drawn too far towards we’re going to invade your privacy versus we’re going to respect your privacy.
I thought it would be of value to compare the roll call votes of the past two extensions of the USA PATRIOT Act: the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011.

In the Senate, the 2005 legislation passed by an overwhelming majority of 89 to 10.  The 2011 legislation passed by a hefty but smaller margin as well: 72 to 23.

Although 23 is still small for an opposition, between 2005 and 2011, we saw the addition of a number of senators with stronger records on civil liberties.  In the elections in 2006, 2008, and 2010, the minority voting against the PATRIOT Act gained 12 new members (8 D, 3 R, 1 Ind), several of whom had previously been in the House:

Mark Begich (D-AK)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
Five senators (4D, 1R) changed their YEA votes to NAY votes:
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

One senator--Carl Levin (D-MI)--changed his NAY vote to a YEA vote.  Shame on him.

Of the original ten opponents, five are no longer in the Senate.  Of the remaining five, all but Carl Levin have remained reliable:
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) brings a strong civil liberties record from her time in the House--needed as the Senate lost a reliable civil liberties champion in Russ Feingold.  Hopefully, he'll make a comeback in 2016.

The USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act passed the House 251 to 174.   The opposition contained 18 Republicans, 155 Democrats, and 1 Independent (Bernie, of course). The PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011 passed the House 250 to 153.

Eighteen Democrats changed their NAY votes to YEA votes.  Shame on them.

Shelley Berkley (NV-01)
Timothy Bishop (NY-01)
Corrinne Brown (FL-03)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Norm Dicks (WA-06)
Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15)
Steve Israel (NY-02)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Ron Kind (WI-03)
Sander Levin (MI-12)
Nita Lowey (NY-18)
Jim Matheson (UT-02)
Bill Pascrell (NJ-08)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20)

All but Berkley and Dicks are still in the House.  Steve Israel is the head of the DCCC, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the head of the DNC.  Nancy Pelosi, thankfully, was a "no" vote both times, but Steny Hoyer was a "yes" vote both times.

Only one Republican--Tom Price (GA-06)--flipped his vote as such.

As these issues re-enter the national debate, if you have Carl Levin as your senator or one of those 16 sitting Democratic representatives mentioned above, I'd suggest that you call their office and inquire about why they thought the PATRIOT Act was bad under Bush but fine under Obama. Also click on the above links for the full roll call votes, and call your senator/representative if s/he has been a resolute "no" as well.

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