Rand Paul's filibuster of Patriot Act ends after 10 1/2 hours

Senator Rand Paul took over the Senate floor at 1:30 PM Eastern time yesterday and proceeded to hold forth for most of the next 10 1/2 hours in a marathon speech against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

Paul's plan was to talk so long that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be unable to file for cloture to end debate on the bill in time for the legislation to be considered before the Memorial Day recess. According to Politico, it's not clear whether Paul actually accomplished that goal, or whether McConnell had it in mind all along to delay a cloture vote until after the recess.

By carrying his talk-a-thon to the brink of Thursday, Paul prevented Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from filing cloture on a bill to extend or reform the PATRIOT Act.

But it’s not clear that McConnell ever intended to — so it’s uncertain whether Paul truly gummed up McConnell’s plan. And with the House set to depart Thursday, a Senate surveillance vote while House lawmakers are still in town was unlikely anyway.

Still, Paul said his nearly half-a-day control of the Senate floor made a difference.

“I think we accomplished something,” Paul said. It was kinda nice to have bipartisan support and having people come down. I think really there’s unanimity among a lot of us that the bulk collection ought to end.”

Paul didn’t hold the floor by himself. The Kentucky senator was buttressed by ten senators — seven of them Democrats — who came to the floor to at times to give Paul a breather. The lawmakers — including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), whose surveillance reform bill Paul criticized repeatedly — chewed up at least 90 minutes worth of floor time in support of Paul. Sen. Ted Cruz, Paul’s 2016 rival, also came to spell the Paul in the closing hour of his speech.

”I’m entirely in agreement with my friend the Senator from Kentucky,” Cruz said at one point. “It is abundantly clear that a clean reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act ain’t passing this body, and it certainly ain’t passing the House of Representatives.”

Regardless of whether Paul’s speech qualified as an official filibuster, the 2016 presidential contender, who made his name two years ago with a 13-hour filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA, once again demonstrated his knack for drawing the spotlight to his pet causes.

“The word is: We won’t get any time to actually debate whether or not we’re going to abridge the Fourth Amendment, whether or not we’re going to accept something that one of the highest courts in our land has said is illegal,” Paul said. “Are we going to accept that without any debate?”

I'm not sure throwing the baby out with the bath water as far as not reauthorizing any parts of the Patriot Act is such a good idea.There are several elements in the Patriot Act that really have made us safer and if they had been in place before 9/11, might have prevented that attack.

Specifically, the structural changes to our domestic and foreign intelligence operations has resulted in more sharing of information between the CIA and FBI. This was a much needed reform and has increased our ability to track terrorists around the world. There were also changes made to monitoring cash transactions that allowed us to combat money laundering and other terrorist financial activity. 

But Senator Paul is correct in that the national security state has gone too far in its surveillance efforts. Despite protestations to the contrary, many experts have concluded that the mass collection of data on American citizens has done little to make us safer and is an egregious violation of our Fourth Amendment rights. 

Good to see that Paul's efforts were joined by some Democrats. This should be a bi-partisan issue and one that most Americans are supporting.

 

Senator Rand Paul took over the Senate floor at 1:30 PM Eastern time yesterday and proceeded to hold forth for most of the next 10 1/2 hours in a marathon speech against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

Paul's plan was to talk so long that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be unable to file for cloture to end debate on the bill in time for the legislation to be considered before the Memorial Day recess. According to Politico, it's not clear whether Paul actually accomplished that goal, or whether McConnell had it in mind all along to delay a cloture vote until after the recess.

By carrying his talk-a-thon to the brink of Thursday, Paul prevented Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from filing cloture on a bill to extend or reform the PATRIOT Act.

But it’s not clear that McConnell ever intended to — so it’s uncertain whether Paul truly gummed up McConnell’s plan. And with the House set to depart Thursday, a Senate surveillance vote while House lawmakers are still in town was unlikely anyway.

Still, Paul said his nearly half-a-day control of the Senate floor made a difference.

“I think we accomplished something,” Paul said. It was kinda nice to have bipartisan support and having people come down. I think really there’s unanimity among a lot of us that the bulk collection ought to end.”

Paul didn’t hold the floor by himself. The Kentucky senator was buttressed by ten senators — seven of them Democrats — who came to the floor to at times to give Paul a breather. The lawmakers — including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), whose surveillance reform bill Paul criticized repeatedly — chewed up at least 90 minutes worth of floor time in support of Paul. Sen. Ted Cruz, Paul’s 2016 rival, also came to spell the Paul in the closing hour of his speech.

”I’m entirely in agreement with my friend the Senator from Kentucky,” Cruz said at one point. “It is abundantly clear that a clean reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act ain’t passing this body, and it certainly ain’t passing the House of Representatives.”

Regardless of whether Paul’s speech qualified as an official filibuster, the 2016 presidential contender, who made his name two years ago with a 13-hour filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA, once again demonstrated his knack for drawing the spotlight to his pet causes.

“The word is: We won’t get any time to actually debate whether or not we’re going to abridge the Fourth Amendment, whether or not we’re going to accept something that one of the highest courts in our land has said is illegal,” Paul said. “Are we going to accept that without any debate?”

I'm not sure throwing the baby out with the bath water as far as not reauthorizing any parts of the Patriot Act is such a good idea.There are several elements in the Patriot Act that really have made us safer and if they had been in place before 9/11, might have prevented that attack.

Specifically, the structural changes to our domestic and foreign intelligence operations has resulted in more sharing of information between the CIA and FBI. This was a much needed reform and has increased our ability to track terrorists around the world. There were also changes made to monitoring cash transactions that allowed us to combat money laundering and other terrorist financial activity. 

But Senator Paul is correct in that the national security state has gone too far in its surveillance efforts. Despite protestations to the contrary, many experts have concluded that the mass collection of data on American citizens has done little to make us safer and is an egregious violation of our Fourth Amendment rights. 

Good to see that Paul's efforts were joined by some Democrats. This should be a bi-partisan issue and one that most Americans are supporting.