There are reasons certain controversial pieces of legislation have short sell-by dates. They can be unusual powers authorized by the legislature in moments of extreme danger, powers that during less turbulent times are not worth impinging on our civil liberties.
Tonight, House Republicans failed to hold the line on one such bill–the Patriot Act. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass, and it didn’t get it. I remember, and it does not seem like so long ago, when the Patriot Act was a hill to die on. Sure the concept was unpopular, but it was worth risking all your political capital because the fight we were engaged in was so important.
It seems times have changed, and the threat is not quite so imminent. 26 Republicans and 177 Democrats have concluded we no longer need to listen in on potential terrorist cell phone conversations or access their financial records.
Here’s hoping they are right.