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Effort to Curb Scope of Antiterrorism Law Falls Short

An effort to bar the government from demanding records from libraries and booksellers in some terrorism investigations fell one vote short of passage in the House on Thursday after a late burst of lobbying prompted nine Republicans to switch their votes.The vote, a 210 to 210 deadlock, amounted to a referendum on the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act and reflected deep divisions in Congress over whether the law undercuts civil liberties. Under House rules, the tie vote meant the measure was defeated. The outcome led to angry recriminations from House Democrats, who accused Republicans of “vote-rigging” by holding the vote open for an extra 23 minutes to get enough colleagues to switch votes. Frustrated Democrats shouted “Shame, shame!” and “Democracy!” as the voting continued, but Republicans defended their right as the majority party to keep the vote open to “educate members” about the dangers of scaling back government counterterrorism powers. Full Story

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