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Last Updated: Friday, 22 July, 2005, 04:03 GMT 05:03 UK
US House renews anti-terror law
George W Bush
George Bush wants Congress to send him a bill to sign quickly
The US House of Representatives has voted by a large majority to extend the Patriot Act, Washington's main anti-terrorism legislation.

Introduced in the wake of the September 2001 attacks on the US, the act grants the government unprecedented powers to investigate terror suspects.

Some provisions are due to expire this year unless renewed by Congress. The legislation now goes before the Senate.

Opponents say many of its provisions infringe civil liberties.

In a late session on Thursday, the House reauthorized the act by 257-171.

The vote was largely split along party lines - with most Republican in favour and most Democrats against.


The debate included frequent references to the London attacks earlier in the day.

The Patriot Act is a key part of our effort to combat terrorism and protect the American people
George W Bush
The act gives officials greater access to educational, financial and medical records.

President George W Bush welcomed the vote and said the legislation was vital.

"The Patriot Act is a key part of our efforts to combat terrorism and protect the American people, and the Congress needs to send me a bill soon that renews the act without weakening our ability to fight terror," he said on Thursday.

However, during the debate many Democrats voiced concern that the law could infringe civil liberties.

"The bill before us fails to assure accountability," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"Today, we are deciding whether the government will be accountable to the people, to the Congress and to the courts for the exercise of its power."

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