After almost 13 hours, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) ended his filibuster on John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director. The filibuster was an effort to draw attention to the Obama administration’s responses to the constitutionality of drone strikes on American citizens.
Although the lengthy process consisted of a seemingly endless repetition of the same talking points, there were a few exciting moments and memorable quotes.
In the last hour of the filibuster, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Paul whether a decision to shoot down flight United 93 during the September 11 attacks would have been justified, as innocent American citizens would have been killed. Paul responded that in the threat of an imminent attack, lethal force is absolutely necessary.
The issue arises, he argued, when the government tries to define imminent in a broader sense.
Paul was supported mostly by newly-elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz was one of the first to offer support at the beginning of the filibuster and often asked lengthy discussions in order to allow Paul to take a break from speaking.
The word “filibuster” generally describes any attempt by the minority party to stall voting on an issue. The talking filibuster, the most traditional form, requires consistent talking during the entire process. According to the talking filibuster rules, Paul could not yield the floor except for questions or the filibuster would have ended and the session adjourned.
The last time a talking filibuster was used was by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lasted around 8 hours during a tax bill debate in 2010. The record, however, lies with Sen. Strom Thurmond, who lasted over 24 hours filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
When Paul concluded, he jokingly alluded to the fact that he was falling short of Thurmond’s record, “I would go for another 12 hours and try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I have learned there are limits and I have to go take care of one of those right now.”
The publicity generated by the filibuster was certainly beneficial for Paul, especially as he gears up for a speech at CPAC and a possible presidential run.
Brennan will likely be confirmed tomorrow in a vote by the Senate.Paul summarized himself, “This will be a blip in his nomination process. But I hope people will see it as an argument for how important our rights are.”