Senator Harry Reid is going to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act–without any of the amendments proposed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or Sens. Tom Udall (D-Colo.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)–on the back of a small business spending bill authored in the House:
Sen. Reid basically killed his current bill and and opted to take up a House small business bill (it's in a form that's considered filibuster-proof as far as starting debate goes). Neither Rand Paul nor anyone else can object to this. Reid then amended the House bill with the entire text of the Patriot Act extension.
The Washington Post says Paul's gun amendment caused the initial holdup (and perhaps served as a signal to Reid that reauthorization was going to be a pain in his statist neck):
The Senate had been poised to approve final passage of the Patriot Act renewal later Wednesday, but amid objections from Paul – who had threatened to hold up passage of the bill unless it included an amendment that would have exempted certain gun records from being searched – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Tuesday night scrapped the original plan and reintroduced the measure through a procedural move that would prevent it from being blocked.
We'll see one more hour of debate today–Paul and Udall are talking up a storm on C-SPAN 2–and then the show's over: Reid, who said last night, "We have worked over the last several days to work something out that I think is an excellent compromise," and before that, agreed to a week of debate and an amendment process, has decided not to allow amendments and to end debate, and to send the legislation to House leadership for an agreed-upon rubberstamp by tomorrow.
UPDATE: Paul just said that the gun amendment "unhinged" some people in the Senate, and led Reid to kill *all* of the amendments.