The vote was for an amendment to the Patriot Act – which was drafted in 2001 to strengthen national security and law enforcement capabilities following the 9/11 terrorist attacks – that would have expressly forbidden the government from accessing peoples’ internet browsing history without a warrant.
It came following the news that a planned addition to the Patriot Act, which is due to be renewed this week, would allow law enforcement to collect Americans’ browsing histories without a warrant.
The proposed addition, which would let Department of Justice officials look through anyone’s browsing history without the approval of a judge, was led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Senator Steve Daines attempted to remove the expanded powers from the bill with a bipartisan amendment, but their amendment failed by just one vote on Wednesday, May 13.
The measure needed 60 votes to pass but only got 59 following a lack of attendance on both sides; four senators didn’t vote at all, and at least one would have voted yes, with an aide telling Politico that Patty Murray would have voted yes but the senator was not in Washington, DC, when the vote occurred.