While congress locks horns over impeachment, they also quietly all came together and reauthorized the PATRIOT Act
The one thing Dems and Reps agree on: Violating our privacy
Every day since Elizabeth Warren announced an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Republican and Democratic representatives have been at each other’s throats. The Dems are fearlessly tearing into Trump, exposing his dealings with the Ukraine, hounding his unlawful actions as president while Republicans are loyally defending their beloved leader tooth and nail.
It’s been quite a show. And casual observer’s might be watching all of this and wondering: Will congress ever be able to agree on anything ever again? They’re so divided, so antagonistic, so stubborn and rooted in their party politics — what would it take to bring them together?
Well, don’t worry, folks. Because, as cavernous as that divide might look on the surface, on the news and in the papers, it’s not nearly big enough to keep our congressional representatives from agreeing on some very particular issues. Issues that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of We The People.
Case and point: Just earlier this week, as the drama of Trump’s impeachment heated up and while all eyes were on the hearings, Congress slipped an unqualified renewal of the PATRIOT Act into an emergency national funding bill. It passed almost unanimously, and without so much as a whisper to the public.
Yes, Democrats and Republicans came together, bridged the aisle, looked past one another’s philosophical and moral differences and renewed one of the most egregious violations of American privacy in US history, extending it into 2020. They know their priorities — and making sure that they have the power and authority to peer into our lives with impunity is at that top of the list.
The PATRIOT Act, for those who might be unfamiliar with it was legislation passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It gave the US government full license to indiscriminately mass-collect and analyze its citizens’ communications and data. Essentially, it makes all of our private information and communication available to the government. It’s what makes the NSA’s mass data collection enterprise totally legal, and even “necessary for national security.”
When the PATRIOT Act was created in 2001, it wasn’t meant to last forever. It was drafted with a “sunset clause” built into it that would have allowed the bill to expire, to die naturally and fade away. But both Democrats and Republicans have worked hard to avoid that outcome. They’ve renewed the bill every time it’s been set to expire — essentially keeping the PATRIOT Act on life support for their own utility.
And this time, they were extra sneaky about how they did it. As the government was (once again) approaching a federal shut-down, and Congress was scrambling to approve a new Continuing Resolution bill that would extend federal funding for another year, Democrats unanimously voted to waive the rule that gives the public 72 hours to read the new Continuing Resoloution bill. Why? Why did they feel the need to keep the American People in the dark on the government’s annual funding extension?
Because, at the last minute, congress appended a provision to the Continuing Resolution bill, which extended the life of Patriot Act into 2020. Even though the Patriot Act has nothing to do with funding Washington for another year, Congress stuck it onto the Continuing Resolution Bill like suction-cup-dildo to the outside of a car, and drove it straight past The People who were all too busy watching the impeachment show to notice.
230 members of Congress just voted to waive the rule that gives us 72 hours to read the Continuing Resolution.— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) November 19, 2019
Why is that significant? This CR contains a last minute unrelated provision to extend the #PatriotAct
Here’s the roll call for the rule change:https://t.co/etRQGRaZ9i
They knew full-well that, if the public had seen that prior to their vote there would have been resistance and outrage, and maybe they wouldn’t have been able to renew this draconian violation of American privacy. So they waited until the last minute, when the impeachment hearings were in full-swing, days before the impending government shutdown; they waived the 72-hour reading rule, stuck the PATRIOT renewal onto the Continuing Resolution bill and passed it almost unanimously (all Democrats and 12 Republicans).
As if the renewal of the PATRIOT Act wasn’t enough to make you question the authenticity and honesty of our political ruling class; if the sneaky, underhanded way in which they appended the PATRIOT Act’s renewal to our federal budget extension, doesn’t inspire a little suspicion in your mind; then the two-faced nature of these congressional representatives certainly should. These people have been attacking one another for being morally reprehensible for months and even years. They’ve been undermining one another’s party policies and political agendas like they’re on some kind of sick reality television game show, competing with each other, acting out this dramatic political soap opera rivalry and generally putting on a good show for their constituents.
But when it comes right down to it, they’re all on the same side — and it isn’t ours.