One of the oldest traditions of the Senate suddenly returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday when a junior senator took to the floor with a seemed-to-be-endless filibuster involving rambling speeches aimed at blocking a vote on President Obama’s choice to lead the CIA, The Huffington Post writes.
The filibuster stretched nearly 13 hours — with the Senate adjourning at about 12:40 a.m. Thursday — and was aimed to raise deeper concern on both sides about the administration’s use of drones in targeted killings and whether the government would ever use them in the United States.
Shortly before noon, Paul rushed to the Senate floor and voiced his opinion considering the nomination of John O. Brennan, Obama’s choice to head the spy agency, who has overseen the drone program.
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said as he began. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Paul’s filibuster has become the first one conducted by a senator since December 2010, when Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke on the Senate floor for more than eight hours to disagree and discuss a tax-cut plan Obama proposed.
The record for the longest filibuster was set by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes beginning on Aug. 28, 1957, opposing civil rights legislation.
During his remarks, the senator quoted some extracts the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, George Washington’s farewell address and other historical documents.
As Paul spoke, security guards, Senate pages and tourists kept watch. During one stretch, a man responsible for operating the Senate television cameras was spotted reading a newspaper, reports The Washington Post.
Throughout his speech, he was joined on the Senate floor by a number of his colleagues, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Close to midnight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also joined, expressing support for Paul’s filibuster.
The senator admitted that he was “alarmed” by a lack of definition for who can be targeted by drone strikes. He suggested that many colleges in the 1960s swarmed of people who may have been considered enemies of the state.
Throughout the day, Paul conceded that Brennan would ultimately get the job.
“I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do this, so I can’t ultimately stop the nomination,” he said late in the afternoon. “But what I can do is try to draw attention to this and try to get an answer.”