U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who garnered the nation’s attention with his 13-hour filibuster of CIA Director John Brennan’s nomination in 2013, may hold another epic filibuster if the Senate tries to extend authorities under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
Roll Call reports:
“We could do something extraordinary,” the Kentucky Republican said Thursday. In the event of an outright lapse in the authorization, Paul said, “I see no reason why we couldn’t use the Constitution for awhile.”
“With key so-called ‘PATRIOT Act’ provisions set to expire on May 31st, I’m leading the fight with a filibuster,” the presidential candidate said in a campaign fundraising email Friday. Supporters of the program “know if they keep this rogue spying program going, they’re going to have to railroad me in the process.”
On May 7, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA’s current bulk collection program is illegal. Paul, who sued the NSA over its data collection program in 2014, praised the decision in several interviews and campaign stops.
“We want the Supreme Court to eventually rule on whether this is Constitutional or not,” Paul said in an interview for Breitbart News. “Our main complaint, or one of our main arguments is, the Fourth Amendment says you have to name the person who you want to get a warrant—but not naming anyone and putting “Mr. Verizon” down and saying you can get the records of millions of people, you’re not writing a specific warrant. You’re writing a generalized warrant.”
NBCNews.com reports that Paul did not indicate whether or not he would follow through with the filibuster on NBC’s Meet the Press, but the threat certainly complicates an already difficult situation for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Roll Call further reports that McConnell and other members of the Senate leadership support full extension of Section 215. They do not want to take up the USA Freedom Act passed by the House recently, but are being pressured by Senate colleagues, the House leadership, and the White House to pass the bill before leaving for the Memorial Day break.
However, before the Senate can even take up the issue of surveillance and PATRIOT Act extension, the upper chamber has to pass trade authorization and a transportation bill — two issues that will be hard enough to fit in a single week. The debate over trade authorization is expected to take up most — if not all — of the week.
Looks like lawmakers may need to cancel their Memorial Day plans.