- - Thursday, February 17, 2011

CONGRESS

House extends Patriot Act

Congress on Thursday gave itself three more months to consider changes to provisions of anti-terrorism law that have been valuable in tracking security threats but have drawn fire from defenders of privacy rights.

The House voted 279-143 to add 90 days to the legal authority of three provisions, including two that were part of the USA Patriot Act, enacted shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Senate approved the measure Tuesday evening.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill before the provisions expire on Feb. 28.

HOUSE

Bachmann unsure about 2012 race

Rep. Michele Bachmann says she hasn’t decided whether to run for president but wants to help “set the table” for debate in the 2012 White House sweepstakes.

The darling of the tea party in Congress tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” it’s too early to say what move she’ll make, saying, “I’m not there yet.”

But the Minnesota Republican did say she feels she has standing to talk to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states because she’s been “on the front lines” of policy debates.

Asked if she planned to seek the GOP presidential nomination, Mrs. Bachmann said, “I haven’t made a decision yet.” She said she wants to make sure voters are heard on leading issues like taxes, spending and the federal debt.

HOUSE

Lawmaker: Health law hurting doctors

Rep. Renee Ellmers, a nurse for 20 years before her election to Congress in November, says President Obama’s health care reform law is already affecting her physician husband’s practice.

Speaking Thursday at the Heritage Foundation, Mrs. Ellmers, North Carolina Republican, said, “My husband is seeing fewer patients. … It has hurt us economically.”

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