WASHINGTON – Racing against the clock, Congress on Thursday approved a four-year extension to key provisions of the Patriot Act that continue the ability of federal investigators to use aggressive surveillance tactics in connection with suspected terrorists.

Overcoming objections from a bipartisan clutch of libertarian-minded lawmakers, the legislation passed the Senate, 72-23, and the House, 250-153.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the intelligence surveillance provisions are needed.

But, she said in a statement, surveillance authority will continue to be subject to review by the Justice Department, other federal agencies and lawmakers.

“As I have said in the past, I pledge to continue to remain vigilant in overseeing the implementation of these authorities and look for any gaps in accountability or transparency that would encroach upon the privacy rights of the American people,” Snowe said.

Lawmakers faced a midnight deadline to pass an extension before the provisions expire. President Obama is attending a Group of Eight summit in France, but aides said he would direct assistants to have the bill signed by auto-pen before midnight.

Some supporters had warned that any interruption in the law could have dire consequences for national security, while opponents demanded more time to debate the need for such provisions almost 10 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“We shouldn’t be fearful. We shouldn’t be fearful of freedom, we shouldn’t be fearful of individual liberty,” freshman Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the legislation’s lead opponent, said Thursday.

Under the provisions extended into 2015, investigators could get court orders to follow terror suspects with “roving wiretaps” that cover multiple phone numbers and multiple carriers.

The vote came less than a month after Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, reassuring support on Capitol Hill in general for the anti-terror tools put in place in the wake of al-Qaida’s attacks in 2001.

“The raid that killed Osama bin Laden also yielded an enormous amount of new information that has spurred dozens of investigations yielding new leads every day. Without the Patriot Act, investigators would not have the tools they need to follow these new leads and disrupt terrorist plots, needlessly putting our national security at risk,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The Senate debate created unusual coalitions on the far left and far right. Paul, considered the most conservative senator, was joined in his opposition by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., among the most liberal.