Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul announced on his Facebook page and Twitter account that he has taken the Senate floor to begin his filibuster of renewing the PATRIOT Act, specifically provisions in Section 215 that are set to expire at the end of the month. Check out the live footage of Paul’s filibuster here.
I've just taken the senate floor to begin a filibuster of the Patriot Act renewal. It's time to end the NSA spying!
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 20, 2015
1:15 pm ET – Rand Paul takes the floor by saying, “There comes a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer… That time is now, and I will not let the PATRIOT Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged.”
3:15pm ET – “If you’re not concerned that Democracy can produce bad people, you’re not thinking about this too much… We have to be concerned with this because you never know who the next group is who become unpopular.”
3:48pm ET – Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) joins Rand Paul on the floor of the Senate. “[The president’s review group] said on page 104 of their report” Wyden said. “The information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders.”
4:30pm ET – Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) takes the floor and urges the Senate to consider the lack of trust most Americans now have in Congress. “I’m calling on my Republican and Democratic colleagues to help repair the dysfunctional legislative branch we’ve inherited,” he said. “The greatest challenge to policy-making today is perhaps distrust. The American people distrust their government and they distrust Congress in particular.”
6:15pm ET – Paul submits to a question from Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Manchin brings up the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House on May 13, and asks if Paul’s privacy rights concerns are addressed by it. “Perhaps, my good friend can remind us again on what provisions you would like to see changed or strengthened in the [USA Freedom Act] to satisfy your interest…”
Paul responded, “Part of my problem [with the USA Freedom Act] is that persons is still defined as corporations. My concern is that you can put the word Verizon in there and the government wouldn’t be collecting the records, but you still can get all the records from Verizon,” he said. “I’m still fearful that the USA Freedom Act does not address that.”
8:50pm ET – Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) picks up the discussion on the USA Freedom Act as the evening sets in. She asks Sen. Paul for his take on how telecommunication companies would be a part of the NSA’s current bulk data collection practices considering provisions in the USA Freedom Act.
Paul responds, “I don’t think under the current USA Freedom [Act] [telecom companies] are going to be required to hold the records, but they are going to be encouraged to and paid to hold the records. I think the real question is, is the USA Freedom an improvement or are we going to have bulk collection under a different name? And that’s what my fear is.”
Update hour 10: 11:45pm ET – Rand Paul closes by saying,
“The bulk collection must end and I think we have the votes to do it now… but that’s not where this battle ends. There still is the question of whether or not the executive is gathering a great amount of information through executive order.” He added, “The fact that the director of our national intelligence lied to us and said the [bulk collection] program didn’t even exist, I think is unforgivable and makes him unsuitable to run our intelligence agency. We have to have trust.”
Even before Paul finished speaking, political pundits had already begun to debate whether or not the day’s proceedings did in fact constitute a filibuster. While some estimations don’t recognize Paul’s filibuster as such, the 10 1/2 hours of extended remarks do have real consequences with respect to Senate procedures.
Washington Post reported, “If he keeps talking past midnight, he will delay McConnell from filing a cloture motion on legislation to address the impending Patriot Act lapse, pushing those votes into Saturday or beyond. And while the Senate was already on a trajectory toward some rare weekend work, given Democrats’ pledges to draw out debate on the trade bill, Paul’s maneuverings could guarantee it.”
Nevertheless, Paul made a splash on social media, with hundreds of supporters sharing photos of themselves watching the events unfold on CSPAN and tweeting with #standwithrand.
*Senators who spoke on the floor include Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Mike Lee (D-Utah), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Steve Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
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