Senate extends the Patriot Act for three months in 86-12 vote

The Senate on Tuesday voted 86-12 Tuesday to extend the Patriot Act for three months. 

The vote came one day after the House passed legislation extending the Patriot Act until Dec. 2011.

Due to an amendment tacked on to the House bill by Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier Tuesday the Senate version of the bill only extends the Patriot Act until May 27, 2011.

The bill is H.R. 514, which would let the government access business records, conduct roving wiretaps, and monitor individual terrorists until Dec. 8 of this year. 

Prior to the vote, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee took to the floor to argue that the legislation remains  essential for national security. 

Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), for example, quoted Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in arguing that that threat level against the nation is at its "most heightened state in more than 10 years."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that while he sees some problems with the Patriot Act, the three month extension will afford the Senate time for further deliberation.

"I will support this extension because it gives the Senate time to properly consider this critically important legislation," Durbin said.

But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued that the bill could represent a violation of Americans' constitutional rights. 

"I will vote against it because I don't think its doing full justice to the Fourth Amendment," Paul said.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guards against unreasonable searches and seizures on private citizens.

The current version of the Patriot Act will expire on March 4.

This story was updated at 6:57 p.m.