Rand Paul sorta-kinda filibusters Renewal of Patriot Act (LIVE updates)

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky currently holds the Senate floor indefinitely.  He will use this time to lambaste the NSA and other government operations that he sees as violating the privacy of Americans supposedly guarded by the 4th amendment.  Nominally his filibuster is over the renewal of the post-9/11 Patriot Act, but oddly he has risen to speak during negotiations over a trade bill.

Politico reports  that while Paul does hold the floor much like a filibuster, he is not actually delaying anything — with one very notable exception:

Paul’s control of the floor, though, could ultimately have ramifications as the Senate tries to finish work on a number of bills before lawmakers leave at the end of the week for their Memorial Day recess. While Paul and other senators speak, McConnell can’t file cloture motions on other bills, including measures to extend or reform the PATRIOT Act.

Aye, there’s the rub.

We will be updating this post as Paul’s sorta-filibuster unfolds.


4:51 PM CST — Jeremy

Rand Paul’s account tweeted about unenumerated rights, including a right to privacy:

I’d be interested to hear his feelings about the unenumerated right to privacy in relation to abortion rights, over which Paul tends to articulate a restrictive policy vision.


4:54 PM CST — Jeremy

Now with CSPAN link to live feed of the Senate floor:



5:15 PM CST

Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, is asking Sen. Paul what his problems with the USA Freedom Act are.  Paul responded that if a corporation is a “person,” then under the Freedom Act “Verizon” could be considered a person of interest and have bulk collection be performed through considering corporations as person.

Senator Manchin explicitly asked if the Citizens United case is the underlying problem here, but Senator Paul avoided the question.



5:39 PM CST

Senator Paul:  “If there are no limits on what a President can do, there’s a name for that.  And it’s not president.”


5:46 PM CST

Senator Paul on the USA Freedom Act:  “Trading government bulk collection for private bulk collection.”

Senator Paul:  “The biggest problem is a generalized vs a specific warrant.”


5:51 PM CST

Senator John Tester (D-MT) rose to speak, condemning Senate leadership for deliberately avoiding a debate on the Patriot Act.  He insinuated that the leadership meant to pass a renewal of the Patriot Act at the last minute, and chose to misdirect by filling the intervening time with a trade bill that “could have been passed in June.”


6:02 PM CST

Senator Paul suggests that IRS investigations may make use of information gained through illegal means in the name of national security.  He went on to reference political targeting on the part of IRS investigations.


6:15 PM CST

Senator Paul on the growth of executive branch power:

“The least of our bureaucrats are in some ways more powerful than the greatest of our legislators.”


6:29 PM CST

Senator Paul is now talking about no-knock raids.

“Barging through doors in the middle of the night leads to accidents on both sides.”

“Do we really need to be coming in the middle of the night looking for marijuana or any other drug?”


7:57 PM CST

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) raises the issue of the “backdoor search”


9:10 PM CST

Senator Paul accuses the DEA of utilizing NSA-sourced information in non-terrorism criminal investigations.  Earlier in the day Paul mentioned that the Patriot Act is utilized to target drug offenders, partially blaming the law on the increasing racial disparity in criminal justice.


11:00 PM CST

It is over.  The Guardian reports:

  • Kentucky senator Rand Paul held the Senate floor for ten and a half hours Wednesday in what he called a filibuster in an attempt to force the Senate to conduct debate on amendments to reform the NSA.

  • Paul was joined by 10 other senators. Three Republicans, including Ted Cruz of Texas, and seven Democrats.

  • By finishing before midnight, the Kentucky senator didn’t end up disrupting the Senate’s schedule after all. The result means that senators, Hill staffers and reporters may actually get a three day weekend.

  • However, Paul’s “filibuster” does make clear that any attempt by the GOP to pass a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act is likely to fail.