S. 990: PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011

S. 990

PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu

May 27, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

The Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment to the House Amendment to S.990 is expected to be considered on the House floor tonight, Thursday, May 26, 2011, under a rule.  On February 17, 2011, the House approved H.R. 514, a temporary extension of the expiring PATRIOT Act provisions, by a vote of 279-143.

Bill Summary

The bill would extend the three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, until June 1, 2015.


On February 25, 2010, the House passed a one year reauthorization of several expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act via H.R. 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009.  The three provisions below are set to expire on May 27, 2011:

(1)   Business Records Provision (the So-Called "Library Provision"—Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act):  This provision allows the FBI to apply to the FISA court for an order granting access to tangible items—including books, records, papers, and other documents—in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and clandestine intelligence cases.  In order to ensure protection against abuses of Section 215 authority, the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act of 2005 contains several conditions including Congressional oversight, procedural protections, application requirements and a judicial review process.  Several of the 9-11 terrorists used public computers to review their September 11th plane tickets. 


(2)   Roving Wiretaps Provision (Section 206 of the PATRIOT Act):  This provision authorizes U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (FISA) orders for multipoint or "roving" wiretaps for foreign intelligence investigations.  A "roving" wiretap applies to an individual and allows the government to use a single wiretap order to cover any communications device that the suspect uses or may use.  This type of wiretap differs from a traditional criminal wiretap that only applies to a particular phone or computer used by a target.  Without roving wiretap authority, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone or computer that needs to be monitored.  Terrorists and foreign spies use multiple communications devices to evade detection. 


(3)   "Lone Wolf" Provision (Section 6001 of Intelligence Reform Act):  This provision amends the definition of "agent of a foreign power" to include individual foreign terrorists who may not be directly affiliated with a foreign power or international terrorist organization.  This provision would prevent terrorists who work on their own from escaping surveillance simply because they are not agents of a foreign power or avowed members of an international terrorist group.  This provision ONLY applies to foreign terrorists or agents of a foreign power.


As of press time, the Congressional Budget Office has not produced an official score of the legislation.