Senate Dems hope small-business bill can be vehicle for Patriot Act extension

According to a Wednesday morning Senate whip notice, S. 990 will also be the legislative vehicle for the Patriot Act extension. A Tuesday filibuster from Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulConservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Senators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales MORE (R-Ky.) prevented the Senate from taking up the Patriot Act extension by itself.

Instead, the Senate will take up several amendments to S. 990 from Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal Shutdown risk grows over Flint Overnight Finance: Four days left to avert shutdown | Conservative group bucks spending bill | Lawmakers play catch-up on smartphone banking MORE (D-Nev.) on Wednesday. The key amendment would add to S. 990 the Patriot Act extension language, allowing U.S. intelligence officials to conduct roving wiretaps, access business records, and conduct "lone wolf" surveillance until June 1, 2015.

Reid on Tuesday filed for cloture on the bill, which should allow the Senate to vote on the package on Thursday. Reid's effort was aimed at avoiding Paul's filibuster and amendments to the Patriot Act bill that he wanted to pursue.

Assuming the Senate can pass the bill Thursday, the House would have to quickly act on the same bill in order to avoid having the Patriot Act authorities expire on Friday.

But one possible hurdle to these plans is whether every senator can support the House version, which would only extend the small-business programs for four months. According to a Senate staffer, Senate Small Business Committee Chairwoman Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuLouisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy Crowded field muddies polling in Louisiana Senate race MORE (D-La.) is pushing for at least a six-month extension or more, which could make it hard for the Senate to come to an agreement.


—This story was updated at 10:20 a.m.