Mr. Paul goes to Washington: Rand Paul filibusters Brennan over Obama drone policy for nearly 13 hours

Rand PaulSen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made history Wednesday when he held one of the longest talking filibusters in U.S. history, clocking in at roughly 12 hours and 52 minutes.

During what was supposed to be a federal snow day, Kentucky’s freshman Senator launched an unexpected filibuster on the chamber’s floor, holding up the vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), over the Obama administration’s unwillingness to clarify it’s drone policy.

Specifically, Paul said he wanted the President or Attorney General Eric Holder to say in writing that they would not kill American citizens with drones.

“It’s like pulling teeth to get an answer from the President,” Paul said.

By refusing to answer his questions, Paul said the Obama administration was essentially saying it believes it has unlimited power and has the right to be the judge, jury and executioner. From the beginning, Paul made it clear that he had every intention of voting for Brennan, he simply wanted to use the vote as an opportunity to demand answers from the White House.

Paul first threatened to filibuster the vote on Brennan in late February.

“Until you directly and clearly answer, I plan to use every procedural option at my disposal to delay your confirmation and bring added scrutiny to this issue and the Administration’s policies on the use of lethal force,” he said in his Feb. 20 letter. He certainly kept his word.

Paul began the filibuster at 11:47 am and said he would continue to speak until the President provided an answer to his questions about the constitutionality of the country’s drone program.

“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said as he began his remarks at approximately 11:47am Wednesday. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court

In the end the Republican Senator had to end the filibuster at 12:39 am, though because his body could no longer withstand the rigors of filibustering.

“And I would go for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I have discovered that there are some limits to filibustering, and I’m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here,” Paul said to laughter from his colleagues and viewers in the gallery.

While there is no time limit on how long a Senator can speak on the chamber floor, the practice of speaking for hours on end – filibustering – is uncommon. The last talking filibuster on the Senate floor was in December 2010, when Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) filibustered President Obama’s proposed tax cuts for eight hours. Paul topped Sanders’ time just after 7:45 pm EST. In order to beat the record set by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Paul would have had to continue speaking until 12:14 pm on Thursday afternoon. To crack the top five filibusters in U.S. history, Paul would have to speak for another three and a half hours.

During a talking filibuster a Senator is not allowed to leave the floor for any reason and must stand the entirety of the time. He must continue to talk continually throughout the filibuster, as well. The only time he can stop talking is if he yields for a question, which Paul repeatedly did as a total of 14 Republican Senators and two Democratic Senators joined the debate.

The bulk of Paul’s extended speech focused on the Obama Administration’s violations of civil liberties, in particular Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim that the president “could hypothetically use military force against U.S. citizens on American soil.”

“When I asked the president, ‘Can you kill an American on American soil,’ it should have been an easy answer. It’s an easy question. It should have been a resounding an unequivocal, ‘No,’” Paul said. “The president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that.”

Paul continued on to discuss the Bill of Rights, talking about everything from mobs, to Jim Crow laws and slavery to our Miranda rights to who should have access to read personal Visa credit card statements.

“I will not sit quietly and let him [Obama] shred the Constitution,” Paul said, later stating that, “I thought we were fighting to preserve our Constitution. What are we fighting for if we’re not fighting to protect our rights at home? The Bill of Rights is too important to scrap it.”

Paul made it clear that his opposition to Obama’s drone program and this filibuster have ”nothing to do with the President being a Democrat.” Rather, it was in response to his ‘disappointment’ in the President for violating Americans’ rights. Paul even said he admires some of Obama’s policies, including limiting unwarranted wiretapping.

“I don’t think he will kill non-combatants, but I don’t want him to claim he has the authority to kill non-combatants,” Paul said.

He also quipped about whether the federal government was going to drop a bomb on notorious dissenters of American foreign policy such as actress Jane Fonda and Internet trolls.

“Have you ever been on the Internet? Have you ever seen crackpots on the Internet who say crazy things? Paul asked.

After Paul had spoken for about four hours, Senators began to rotate into the filibuster to ask questions and give Paul’s voice a rest. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah),  Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ron Wyden (D-Or.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Barrasso (R-Wy.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.),  Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) all participated in the questioning process, though most of Pauls’ allies questions were really long speeches about drones and the Constitution with a question posed at the end to stay in keeping with the filibuster rules.

Wyden, one of only two Democrats to join in, said he supports Brennan’s confirmation, but joined the filibuster because he too is concerned about targeted killings of American citizens. In turn, Paul called Wyden “a champion for civil rights.”

Rubio jokingly advised Paul to keep a glass of water nearby while giving such a long speech. He also praised Paul for teaching folks snowed in with “nothing better to watch but CSPAN” a lesson about the Constitution.

Upon taking the floor, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas noted that Paul “standing here today, like a modern Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, must surely be making Jimmy Stewart smile.”

As the filibuster moved into hour five at approximately 4:45pm EST, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to intervene and end the filibuster by invoking cloture on the vote and limiting the debate to 90 more minutes, 30 minutes of which would go to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

“I have no problem if you want to talk a long time. I’ve done a time or two in my days, but I think rest of the body needs to know if we’re going to finish tonight or tomorrow or the next day,” Reid said.

Paul said he would like to end the debate, but the Obama administration has still failed to say in writing that it will not kill American citizens with drone strikes.

“I don’t understand why he couldn’t put that into words, but if he does I want no more time,” Paul said. “But if not, I will continue to object if the administration and the Attorney General will not provide an adequate answer.”

A visibly perturbed Reid  responded with, “I’m not in a position to talk to the Attorney General. We’ll just finish this matter tomorrow. Everyone should plan on coming tomorrow. We’re through for the night,” and exited the Senate.

In January, Senate Leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell agreed to a filibuster reform deal to help avoid lengthy speeches like the one Paul is giving today, but it clearly did not deter Paul, and toward the end of the filibuster McConnell joined the debate, too.

After he had been speaking for about seven and a half hours, Paul proposed a unanimous consent resolution demanding an answer from President Obama to his questions. However, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) rejected the resolution on behalf of the majority party, calling it “premature” while promising to hold a hearing on drones soon that Paul could speak at.

And with that Paul went back to reading articles on the danger of drones until Cruz came back on the floor half an hour later to read him encouraging tweets from Americans who “#StandwithRand.” Because electronics are not allowed on the Senate floor, Paul was unable to receive any  outside communication that was not hand delivered or read aloud in the Senate.

Unsurprisingly, Paul’s speech was talked about non-stop from start to finish and #RandPaul, #StandwithRand, Brennan and #filibuster all went viral nationwide; unfortunately, Paul’s own hashtag – #filiblizzard – didn’t. The #StandwithRand hashtag eventually began trending on twitter worldwide.

“I think the technical term for what the Twitterverse is doing right now is ‘blowing up,’ ” Cruz told Paul.

Paul thanked Cruz for “cheering” him up, noting that he was getting kind of tired. He then clarified that he’d take any type of written response from Attorney General Eric Holder clarifying the administration’s policy on drone strikes, including a telegram or even a tweet.

Cruz came back second time just after 10 pm to read Paul more tweets, including one that said, ”This can end, Brennan. Just say you won’t unilaterally kill us” and another that said “U da man.” Cruz noted that instead of giving a maiden speech on the Senate floor, he was using his first opportunity to speak in the chamber to ‘Stand with Rand’ himself.

The Texas Senator proceeded then to read Shakespeare and General Patton for a large chunk of time. Directly after Cruz, Rubio took the floor again to note that he doesn’t know any Shakespeare, but he can quote the “modern poet” Wiz Khalifa, “Work hard, play hard” and one of the greatest movies of all time – “The Godfather.”

“And that brings me back to another modern day poet – his name was Jay-Z,” Rubio said.

In the end, Paul’s bladder got the best of him and he had to end the filibuster, but he did so surrounded by his friends from both chambers of the federal government and amidst loud cheering. The Senate President was forced to call the chamber to order three times before the room quieted  down, noting that “expressions of approval or disapproval are not allowed in the Senate.”

As soon as Paul finished speaking, Durbin filed for cloture on the vote, to prevent another filibuster from taking place this afternoon.

 

CSPAN has archived the entire filibuster, which you can watch below, in case you missed any part of the nearly 13 hour long Senate saga.

Katie LaPotin contributed to this article.

Comments

Comments

  1. Eric Coddington says:

    Well what have we here “another Mr. Smith goes to Washington”. I am glad he must have stayed up all night practicing jumping up yelling Mr. Speaker as loud as he can and prepared from hundreds of
    hours of study. Is he not the one that said get these old guys out of the way we could resolve the
    debt of our Nation in one day! God thank you for them young bloods, but please help them to know
    calling the old guys stupid or out dated will get you know where in Washington. I bet he has a squirt gun ready to charge hell it self, but I do not care I like a good fight on prime time, and he has right on his side yeee haaaw…..

    1. Eric Coddington says:

      Yes I said “know where” Point is know where to find information. The IRS picked on the
      Old guys (Congress) they made laws reduced their power. After all they where calling the guys crooks liars said they owed money they did not or not???? They can not do that any more as
      a point of fact!

Polititainment

Celebs gin up youth votes for midterms
THE HILL – With young voters more apathetic about voting and government than ever, several organizations are trying to woo the “selfie generation” to the polls this fall. “About half of those who vote in presidential elections do not vote in midterms,” explained Andy Bernstein, executive director of HeadCount, a non-partisan organization that partners with musicians […]
Maher to Cheney: light yourself on fire

As Hunter S. Thompson despised Richard Nixon with every drug-influenced fiber of his being, so Bill Maher carries on the torch for media provocateurs.

Colbert announces plan to defeat ISIS
President Barack Obama might not have a strategy for defeating ISIS in Syria, but never fear,  comedian Stephen Colbert has him covered. Colbert announced a unique plan Thursday night that involves raising Ronald Reagan from the grave, a captive radio audience and Monty Python-esque horse sound effects. “Remember in 1938 the radio broadcast of ‘War […]
Brand: ISIS better than conservatives
Actor Russell Brand took to Youtube Wednesday to compare terrorist group ISIS to conservatives, eventually coming to the conclusion that conservatives in power were worse than ISIS. Brand was recording yet another video aimed at attacking Fox News when he made the statements about ISIS. He was responding to Fox host Greg Gutfeld’s comments about Brand’s […]
Biden congratulates 'Veep' on Emmy win
From one Vice President to another… Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter Tuesday to congratulate actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus on her Emmy win. Louis-Dreyfus snagged her third consecutive Outstanding Actress in a Comedy series win Monday for her portrayal of a fictional vice president on HBO’s “Veep.” Last year, the VP picked up the phone […]

White House

Obama: The world seems really messy because of ‘social media’

President Barack Obama, speaking at yet another fundraiser with a script that's been recycled more than a Hollywood romantic comedy, had an unlikely culprit for the world's problems.

White House scrambles to control the fallout from Obama’s ‘We don’t have a strategy yet’ comment
It’s hard to imagine that there was any other reaction than full panic from White House staffers after President Obama uttered a fateful gaffe Thursday afternoon, “We don’t have a strategy yet.” The line quickly exploded on Twitter and on television — though not quite as much as the president’s tan suit — as it […]
GOP: ‘He’s not a king’
THE HILL – Whether lamenting the so-called vacationer-in-chief’s swing of a golf club or criticizing his handling of the healthcare rollout, Republicans are getting in the habit of comparing President Obama to a monarch. “It’s one thing after another. You know he says he has no choice but to act. He says he has a pen […]
Obama’s Democratic fundraising just might ruin Labor Day weekend for the rest of us

Barely having returned from a 15-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Obama will spend is Labor Day weekend traveling to support his Democratic friends. The problem is, this means that Americans planning to take seaplanes to East Hampton, Montauk, Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket won't be able to travel themselves.

White House flirt Joe Biden turns on the charm for 108-year-old veteran Lucy Coffey

Joe Biden continues to brand himself the White House flirt. In a recently released video of Biden's July 25 meeting with Lucy Coffee, the vice president kisses the 108-year-old war veteran on the cheek and hand and tells her, "I'm the guy that loves you."

Congress

Cruz highlights issues for 2014, 2016 elections
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) elicited huge cheers from the audience at the Americans For Prosperity’s “Defending the American Dream Summit” Saturday when he vowed Republicans would take back control of the U.S. Senate and “retire” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I’m convinced we’re going to win in 2014 and 2016 is going to be even better,” […]
IRS says Lerner's Blackberry 'destroyed'

A senior IRS lawyer has said in a sworn declaration that Lois Lerner's BlackBerry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun to investigate her involvement in IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Youth impact reason enough to pass jobs bills
The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is in the midst of releasing 40 reasons over the course of 40 days that the Senate should take up the 40 jobs bills the House has already passed. While most of their reasons have focused on general unemployment and economic growth statistics, they turned their attention […]
UNEARTHED: Archival footage of Harry Reid smiling

From appearances, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid derives little pleasure from his job, perhaps a deputy to the paragon of joylessness. But Red Alert Politics has dug into the archives to demonstrate that it wasn't always like this.

Rubio: Obama action would kill immigration reform
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is urging President Barack Obama to forego taking executive action on immigration, warning that would kill any chance for comprehensive immigration reform. “If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” […]