After Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) gave an assist to Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) filibuster, some on the left were eagerly trying to frame the floor speech as not “joining” in a GOP filibuster.
About four hours into Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster of the John Brennan nomination, Wyden announced via Twitter he was “heading to the floor to speak on Congressional oversight of executive branch & rules for targeted killings.”
To keep the filibuster going — and to get a bit of a break from marathon talking — Paul needed to hand the mic off to a colleague who would technically pose a question to the senator without yielding the floor.
“The issue of American security and American freedom really doesn’t get enough discussion here in the United States Senate and it’s my view that the senator from Kentucky has made a number of important points this day,” Wyden said.
Though admitting he would inevitably vote for Brennan — which even some Republicans who assisted Paul did — Wyden lauded his GOP colleague for a consistent stand on civil rights and said “the executive branch should not be allowed to conduct such a serious and far-reaching program by themselves without any scrutiny, because that’s not how American democracy works. That’s not what our system is about.”
Later on MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow was insistent that Wyden had “engaged Senator Paul in debate.”
“I was careful to say it that way, because as far as I understand it, you are not participating in the filibuster of John Brennan`s nomination. You do believe he should get an up or down vote. You do not want it delayed,” Maddow told Wyden.
“Did this debate about congressional oversight and transparency on drones, did it get better today by use of this tactic?” she asked.
“I think the American people certainly know more about the fundamental question, which is we have to strike a better balance, Rachel, between protecting our security and protecting our liberty,” Wyden said. “…And this debate is just beginning. And the reason I went to the floor today is, I thought it was an opportune time to try to show that there is a new effort by both progressives and conservatives to try to show that in our country, it’s possible both to protect our liberties and at the same time ensure that we’re vigilant against the very real threats that are out there.”