Paul Injects Life into Party with Nearly 13-Hour Filibuster
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wandered onto the floor. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) offered to hold hearings on drones, which Paul brushed off as just a standard congressional stall tactic.
And unlike Sanders, who didn't have a bipartisan Filibernie, Paul had Democratic support -- some wholehearted, some tepid.
The ACLU and Code Pink praised the Paulibuster. "Good for Sen Paul-a talking filibuster to fight for an important ideal- unlike McConnell's partisan silent filibusters designed to paralyze," tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a vocal critic of Obama's drone program, was the only Democrat to join Paul on the floor.
“Sen. Paul and I agree that this nomination also provides a very important opportunity for the United States Senate to consider the government’s rules and policies on the targeted killings of Americans and that, of course, has been a central pillar of our nation’s counter-terror strategy,” Wyden said.
The lack of Democratic representation as the GOP waved the flag for due process rights didn't sit well with some liberals off the Hill. "For gods sake where are democrats ?? '@democracynow: Rand Paul: Obama Admin Response Drones More Than Frightening' http://owl.li/itdHI ,” tweeted actor John Cusack.
Senators sticking it out with Paul and giving him a break -- asking lengthy questions of the Kentucky Republican while he got to rest his voice without yielding the floor -- were Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Cruz read aloud supportive messages from Twitter -- another activity disallowed on the Senate floor.
As the filibuster approached hour No. 12, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arrived and spoke for a short time. Others lending a hand to Paul in the late-night hours included Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
Read often on the floor was the controversial response Paul received this week from Attorney General Eric Holder to his repeated requests for detailed information about whether drone strikes would be used against Americans on U.S. soil.
“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," Holder wrote. "For example, the President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.”
"If the president will sort of say what Attorney General Holder was trying to say this morning and put it into actual words, that he thinks that he has the military authority to reject imminent attack, I think we all agree to that," Paul said on the floor. "But if he says that he’s not going to use drones on people who are not engaged in combat in America, I think we could be done with this debate. I think one phone call from the president to clarify what his position is or from the attorney general to actually write out what his position is, but I guess the reason I’m kind of alarmed is we have a quote from the attorney general saying that the fifth amendment, the executive branch will decide when and if to use the fifth amendment."
When Paul finally gave in to Mother Nature, Durbin swept in to file cloture on the Brennan nomination.
"I would go for another 12 hours to try to beat Strom Thurmond's record … but there are some limits to filibustering and I'm going to have to take care of one of those in a minute," Paul concluded, sparking laughter.
When he yielded the floor the chamber was filled with sustained applause that didn't yield to the banging of the gavel.
"I'm proud of my son's efforts today to shed light on this administration's destructive and dangerous drone policy," former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) wrote on his Facebook page.