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Update: Patriot Act extended for only one month

The debate over the Patriot Act will resume next month after all.

For the last few weeks, it's been unclear what would happen as the Dec. 31 expiration date neared for portions of the controversial law, enacted a few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

President Bush has been pressuring senators to approve a four-year extension of the law without reforms that civil libertarians have suggested. The White House even went so far as to suggest that the president would veto a shorter renewal.

But the Senate late Wednesday rejected Bush's entreaty, effectively calling his bluff, and instead a 6 month extension.

That didn't work for the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives, which volleyed back on Thursday afternoon with a one-month (actually five week) extension of the 16 portions of the law that are due to expire.

Then, also on Thursday, the Senate agreed to the deal. President Bush has indicated he'll sign the legislation.

The bottom line? The brief extension doesn't really favor either the Bush administration or the critics who are pressing for surveillance reforms. But it does increase the pressure on Congress to come up with a compromise soon after they return next month.