The House passed a 90-day extension of key provisions of the Patriot Act counterterrorism surveillance law on Thursday, sending the measure to President Obama for his signature.

The vote was 279 to 143. The legislation would extend the provisions -- dealing with roving wiretaps, "lone wolf" terrorism suspects and the government's ability to seize "any tangible items" during surveillance -- until May 27, a compromise reached to give lawmakers more time to consider reauthorizing them for a longer period. The Senate approved the short-term extension Tuesday.


The Obama administration is launching a new round of worksite investigations, maintaining the pressure on businesses to make sure they are hiring only people who can legally work in the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it has notified 1,000 companies of audits of their I-9s, forms that new employees complete, and of the identification documents those employees provided to show they are eligible to work in the United States. "The inspections will touch on employers of all sizes and in every state in the nation," ICE said.

ICE assistant secretary Kumar Kibble said that in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, ICE performed 2,746 worksite investigations, more than double the 1,191 two years earlier.


President Obama met privately with some of Silicon Valley's top executives in a West Coast trip to sell the innovation agenda he announced in his State of the Union address.

Among the technology industry leaders who were invited to dine with the president Thursday were Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the sector is a model for the "kind of economic activity that we want to see in other cutting-edge industries."

The president continues his trip Friday with a visit to Intel's semiconductor manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Ore.


The Obama administration asked a federal judge to clarify whether his recent ruling against the new health care law was meant to block its implementation pending appeals.

The judge, Roger Vinson, of U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., ruled Jan. 31 that the provision requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance was unconstitutional, and that the entire Affordable Care Act was therefore invalid. It led to conflicting interpretations among lawyers for the federal government and for the 26 states that had challenged the law. Some states have continued to carry out its requirements, while others -- such as Alaska and Florida -- have declared that they consider it effectively dead.

The filing by the Justice Department asked Vinson to clarify that his ruling "does not relieve the parties of their rights and obligations under the Affordable Care Act while the declaratory judgment is the subject of appellate review."

Two other federal judges have upheld the law, and those rulings also are being appealed, with the Supreme Court expected to settle the matter.