Agreement on Patriot Act reached, Reid sets 10 a.m. Thursday vote

A breakthrough in negotiations on renewing the Patriot Act became evident on the Senate floor Wednesday evening when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that a crucial vote on the legislation will occur at 10 a.m. on Thursday, rather than at 1 a.m. as previously thought. 

Senate leadership is racing against the clock, believing the expiration of the current version of the Patriot Act at midnight on Friday would create an upheaval in the law enforcement community.

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The Senate was preparing for a 1 a.m. vote because Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who vehemently opposes the Patriot Act, had indicated earlier in the day that he would force the Senate to follow all of the cumbersome rules that pertain to taking up a new piece of legislation in the upper chamber.

Reid said that while the vote is being held at 10 a.m., hours will begin accruing at 1 a.m. toward the 30-hour percolating period required for passage by Senate rules. 

"In short we don't have to have a vote at 1 a.m.," Reid said. "Everyone has been most cooperative to get us past that. Hopefully we will be able to make everyone happy."

The Patriot Act renewal legislation would extend the ability of U.S. intelligence authorities to conduct roving wiretaps, gain access to business records and survey "lone-wolf" operators, non-U.S citizens believed to be acting alone to commit terrorist acts.