Rand Paul to Take the Floor to Again Contest Drone Policy, White House to Release Memo (Updated)
Updated 7:25 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul intends to take the Senate floor Wednesday to contest the nomination of David J. Barron to be a federal appeals court judge, though it doesn’t appear the Kentucky Republican will halt Barron’s confirmation.
That’s in part because the White House plans to release the legal justification for the government’s use of unmanned drones to target U.S. citizens, according to Sen. Mark Udall.
“This is a welcome development for government transparency and affirms that although the government does have the right to keep national security secrets, it does not get to have secret law,” the Colorado Democrat said in a statement. “I am proud the Administration appears to have heeded my call and committed to abide by a recent Second Circuit Court ruling and publicly release this memo. With this decision, I am now able to support the nomination of David Barron to the federal bench.”
It’s unclear exactly how long Paul plans to speak about Barron and the drone program Wednesday, but staffers around the Capitol are preparing for a late Wednesday session.
The drone issue is the same subject that prompted last year’s the #standwithrand filibuster of John O. Brennan’s nomination to be CIA director. Barron wrote memos justifying the Obama administration policy when he served as acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
“I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat,” Paul plans to say on Wednesday, according to an excerpt from his office. “I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a President is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court.” The extended Paul floor speech won’t be a filibuster, really. In fact, the Senate may well have agreed to a time limit on the debate before he speaks.
The Senate is scheduled to vote to limit debate on the Barron nomination around 2 p.m. Wednesday, with a confirmation vote set for 2 p.m. Thursday, for what could be the last vote before Memorial Day recess.
“This month comes to a close with our departure on Thursday afternoon,” Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters on Tuesday.
Udall’s support is further evidence that Barron’s nomination itself, to a seat on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, appears to be on track, as Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated earlier in the day.
“I think we’ll be OK,” the Nevada Democrat said of Barron. “There was just some misunderstanding. Once everything was explained … certainly most everyone in our caucus is satisfied.”
White House lawyers briefed Democrats on the Barron nomination and the drone memos last week.