PATRIOT Act renews

Republican U.S. Rep. Dean Heller was the sole vote against renewing provisions of the PATRIOT Act among Nevada’s congressmembers.

Democrat Shelley Berkley and Republican Joe Heck in the House and Democrat Harry Reid and Republican John Ensign in the Senate all voted to keep the law’s provisions in place, though the renewal is for only three months. Critics of the law—who include a rare coalition of Democrats and Tea Partiers—are preparing for the next vote. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said it’s time for Congress to have the “debate it has spent 10 years avoiding.”

The PATRIOT Act—the labored acronym is for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”—was enacted by Congress in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedies and, with its authority for interception of various kinds of communication, access to private records, control of private finances, and easier detention and deportation, has been a lightning rod for critics of an overreaching federal government.