Although the chances are slim that the amendment to cut off funds for bookstore and library searches under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act will become law, supporters of the legislation see last week's House vote backing the proposal as a milestone. Oren Teicher, COO of the ABA noted that when Rep. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.) introduced his amendment two and a half years ago, "he was laughed out of the room. Now we have 238 House members on record saying Section 215 shouldn't be reauthorized without changes."

Teicher acknowledged that Sanders's amendment faces an uncertain future, but said the vote "will help frame the debate on the critical fight on reauthorization." Teicher said the support of the House makes it more likely that if Section 215 is reauthorized it will include new safeguards that protect the privacy of bookstore and library records.