Rand Paul Filibusters John Brennan Over Drone Strikes
Paul, a Tea Party favorite who has assumed a leadership role among the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, had threatened to filibuster Brennan’s confirmation after receiving a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder that did not rule out the use of drone strikes on American soil, according to the New York Times. While Brennan’s potential role at the CIA would have nothing to do with drone strikes in the United States, Paul’s beef is not with him personally, but the Obama defense brain trust’s policy on extrajudicial killings by drone, which has not been clarified to the senator's satisfaction.
The Kentucky senator opened by pledging to “speak until [he] can no longer speak,” and helped out by cameos from a handful of other senators, including Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Paul has held the Senate floor well into the late evening, with little sign of slowing down. The Senate record for longest filibuster is held by the late Strom Thurmond, who spoke for over 24 hours against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
The rules of the filibuster require one or a group of legislators to speak continuously on the Senate floor, on whatever topic they choose, in order to delay or outright prevent a vote. While this has resulted in such tactics as reading the phone book, Paul has remained topical, reading from news articles on drone strikes and constitutional analysis.
Sens. Lee and Barrasso used their time on the floor largely to ask rhetorical questions about the constitution, while as the evening went on, Sen. Cruz opted for a 21st century filibuster strategy: reading through tweets supportive of Paul.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unsuccessfully tried to end the filibuster in the late afternoon and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) made his own attempt to wrap it up, offering Paul the opportunity to testify at a future hearing on drones in exchange for concluding his filibuster, according to Talking Points Memo. Paul, who wanted the Senate to vote for a non-binding resolution opposing domestic drone strikes, did not find the offer satisfactory.
Paul’s most controversial sound bite came when he brought up the fact that Adolf Hitler was democratically elected as a warning against giving the president too much power. While the senator made it clear that he was not comparing anyone in the government to Hitler and his warning was about unchecked executive power as a concept, Hitler analogies tend to make people uncomfortable and can detract from the overall message.
Paul acknowledged that he could not filibuster indefinitely, and the nomination of Brennan, approved in a Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, would eventually go through, possibly as early as Tuesday.
Read more of Neon Tommy’s coverage of drones here.
Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.