Senate moves Patriot Act toward extension

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he has struck the first of several agreements needed to pass a four-year Patriot Act extension before three provisions expire at midnight Thursday.

The agreement to hold a test vote Thursday morning is the first progress all week in a standoff between Senate leaders and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who opposes the Patriot Act. Paul has stalled the renewal, saying he wanted Reid to make good on a promise to allow debate on amendments. Reid said there was no time for that.

Congress is under unusual pressure to quickly extend the law, designed to help the government find terrorists on American soil. Once passed by the House and Senate, the extension must be flown to Europe for President Barack Obama's signature.