IAmTheDave writes "The Senate has passed a renewal of the Patriot act, 89-10, after two extensions caused by months of negotiations. The only thing standing in the way of a full renewal is a House vote, expected to pass next week. The renewal comes with some privacy protections attached, however, some worry they are only cosmetic. Some lawmakers who voted for the package acknowledged deep reservations about the power it would grant to any president. "Our support for the Patriot Act does not mean a blank check for the president," said Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who voted to pass the bill package. Certain lawmakers supported passing the bill even though they were still wary about it - Arlen Specter urged his colleagues to pass it even as he promised to introduce a new measure and hold hearings on how to fix it. Terrorism aside, the bill also includes new legislation that has almost nothing to do with terrorism, like one measure, which would make it harder for illicit labs to obtain ingredients for methamphetamine by requiring pharmacies to sell nonprescription cold medicines only from behind the counter. I know that people like Arlen Specter promise further hearings - but why pass what you know is flawed?"