Although the Patriot Act passed easily soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a planned expansion of the powers granted to the Federal government with that bill is not getting the same welcome.

In fact, the House has overwhelmingly passed a measure that would repeal a part of the Patriot Act. The Otter amendment, named for Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho, would take away federal investigators’ power to conduct unannounced searches of homes and businesses.

While only a small adjustment to current federal powers, this suggests that Congress’ feelings on the subject are changing.

The so-called Patriot Act II, never officially proposed, would have made it easier to hold suspects and deny them bail and included provisions that would set up a DNA database for people associated with terrorist groups, among other features.

One top congressional aide says the idea of expanded powers might not be addressed until the end of 2005, when the current Patriot Act is set to expire.

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