Skip to content

Rand Paul Takes the Floor to Contest NSA Surveillance (Updated) (Video)

Paul toured Independence Hall on Monday and vowed to "filibuster" an extension of the NSA's surveillance powers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Paul toured Independence Hall on Monday and vowed to "filibuster" an extension of the NSA's surveillance powers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:44 p.m. | At approximately 1:18 p.m. Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor for what’s best described as an extended oration about the Fourth Amendment.  

Unlike Rand Paul’s filibuster of the choice of John O. Brennan to head up the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013, which was designed to protest the Obama administration’s use of drones, the Kentucky Republican isn’t really holding up Senate business this time since the chamber is sitting through an “intervening day.”  

That hasn’t stopped Paul from calling his long talk a “filibuster.”  

Paul is speaking against reauthorizing provisions of surveillance law that were established under the Patriot Act, espousing the view that the program of bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency is not only ill-advised, but also unconstitutional.  

Late Monday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., filed a pair of cloture motions related to the “fast track” trade legislation that’s been pending on the Senate floor.  

Under the rule, McConnell’s action means the Senate will vote to limit debate on a substitute amendment to the trade vehicle offered by Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, one hour after the Senate convenes on the calendar day Thursday. That’s as early as 1 a.m.  

But, a precedent applied when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gave a similar long speech would mean the vote wouldn’t take place until approximately 1 p.m. Under that ruling of the chair, the vote would take place one hour after a new legislative day starts automatically at noon.  

Rand Paul’s presidential campaign was quick to send out a fundraising email tied to the speech and threatening to hold senators in town through the Memorial Day recess.  

“Fellow Conservative, liberty cannot long last without privacy from government intrusion. Yet, it seems many of my colleagues here in the Senate care more about getting out of town for the Memorial Day break than protecting the Constitution so many American patriots have fought and died for. I have news for them. They are going NOWHERE,” Paul wrote. “I will not simply stand down and allow them to ram through another “last-minute” deal to shred our Constitution — all while they think the American people aren’t looking.”  

Paul could be delaying the start of other Senate business, such as the filing of a motion to limit debate to just take up a surveillance bill, but given the amount of debate time in order on trade, that might be a moot point.  

Paul previewed his latest stand on the Senate floor Monday at events in Philadelphia, including a news conference held outside Independence Hall.  

McConnell, who favors extending the full breadth of the programs scheduled to lapse at the end of the month, said Tuesday that floor consideration would include allowing a vote on a proposal that passed the House with 338 votes known as the USA Freedom Act that would end the current bulk collection.  

Paul said Monday that the USA Freedom Act is also problematic to him, saying it could (perhaps unintentionally) expand on the existing Patriot Act.  

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Recent Stories

Democrats mark abortion ruling anniversary with targeted outreach

Roads to the House majority: Interstate 5

Battleground House matchups to be set in New York, Colorado

Bowman fights for survival as Maloy, Tenney also face primaries

At Aspen conference, a call to prioritize stopping gun violence

Appeals court rules preventive care task force unconstitutional