Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had one Democrat pitch in to help his 2013 filibuster of John Brennan’s CIA nomination: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who like Paul protested potential drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil without due process.
Of course, at that time Paul was blocking Democratic leadership from proceeding with an agenda item of President Obama’s, and today he’s standing in the way of Republican leadership’s agenda as lawmakers are itching to wrap up a trade bill in time for the Memorial Day weeklong recess.
Today, as he delivers a long speech — like Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) 21-hour speech in 2013, not technically a filibuster — in protest of a lack of debate on the Patriot Act reauthorization and NSA bulk telephone metadata collection, Paul is getting assistance from Wyden — who, like Paul, is demanding that GOP leadership allow consideration of his amendments — and more: Dem Sens. Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Jon Tester (Mont.) have pitched in as of 7 p.m. EST.
“Since I first came to the Senate, I have been deeply concerned about the scope and reach of our intelligence community’s bulk data program, which is based on a flimsy interpretation of the original Patriot Act and has questionable national security value,” Coons said. “Particularly now that a federal circuit court has deemed the program illegal and confirmed these concerns, it would be irresponsible for Congress to continue reauthorizing the law without taking steps to address the unlawful surveillance it has allowed.”
On Paul’s side of the aisle, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) have gotten up to speak.
Lee tried Tuesday to begin debate on the House-passed USA Freedom Act, which essentially replaces the Patriot Act with more privacy protections, but Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) blocked the motion. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the bill will get a vote but he has not committed to allowing amendments.
“While the senator from Kentucky and I come to different conclusions with regard to specific question as to whether we should allow section 215 of the Patriot Act to expire, I absolutely stand with the junior senator from Kentucky and more importantly I stand with the American people with regard to the need for a transparent and open amendment process and for an open and honest debate in front of the American people,” Lee said.
“I agree with the junior senator from Kentucky that the American people deserve better than they are getting. And quite frankly it is time that they expect more from the United States Senate. This is not time for more cliffs, for more secrecy, and more 11th hour backroom deals. It’s time for the kind of bipartisan bicameral consensus that I believe is embodied in the USA Freedom Act.”
A handful of House members were also sitting in the Senate chamber to back Paul, including Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Tom Massie (R-Ky.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.).
Paul’s presidential campaign has been sending out filibuster updates and highlighting news coverage of the talk-a-thon, which began at 1:18 p.m. EST.
Paul’s Twitter account was asking supporters to tweet selfies with his filibuster.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 20, 2015