Senate approves Patriot Act renewal

The Senate passed the USA Patriot Act on Thursday, handing President George W. Bush a victory in his troubled second term and polishing the Republicans' tough-on-terror image for congressional elections in November. The 89-10 vote was months overdue and came only after a Democrat-led filibuster forced Bush to accept modest curbs on the government's power to investigate suspects in terror probes. Still, Bush savored the moment at a time when his approval ratings have suffered over the war in Iraq, his administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina and other perceived gaffes of the last few months. The House of Representatives was expected to approve the two-bill package next week and send it to the president, who would sign it before 16 provisions expire March 10. Bush applauded the Senate for overcoming "partisan attempts to block its passage."