The morning after the House failed to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act when more than two dozen Republicans defected, the blame game was in full swing.
Republican leadership thought the extension would pass easily so they fast tracked the vote — with the same procedure used to pass uncontroversial bills such as naming post offices and non-binding resolutions. But 26 Republicans, including eight freshmen, joined 122 Democrats to shoot it down, taking nearly everyone by surprise.
“Listen, we’ve been in the majority four weeks. We’re not going to be perfect every day,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday morning. “If the Democrats who voted for these same provisions last year would have voted for them this year, it would have passed.”
Last February, 162 Democrats voted for a one-year extension of the law. Thirty-six of those voted against extension Tuesday night.
“It shows they’re not serious,” added Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “I mean, come on.”
The vote would have extended parts of the Patriot Act that empower the government to conduct roving wiretaps, monitor library activity and conduct surveillance on “lone wolves,” those not tied to a known terrorist group.
The night of the vote, Democrats also knocked Republicans for failing to whip enough members of their party into joining the leadership. Republicans even held the vote open beyond the normal 15 minutes used to twist a few arms in the final moments.
“They didn’t have the votes,” said Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Barney Frank. “They kept trying to get them to switch, but couldn’t get them.”
When asked why he scheduled the vote using the fast track method when they did not have the votes, Boehner merely shrugged, and said: “It was.”