Rand Paul may be back on the filibuster. This time, over reauthorization of FISA. He said Thursday that he will “absolutely filibuster” a long-term extension of the surveillance law.
Congress has until the end of Friday to pass a spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown. What will likely be included in the continuing resolution is an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Act — the bill that allows the government to use physical and electronic surveillance to monitor American citizens.
But a couple of senators are putting their foot down, and say Congress should not continue FISA without debate. One of those senators is Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky. This is not the first time Paul has raised concern over the broad surveillance programs allowed under FISA — nor is he new to the filibuster.
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Paul became a nationally-recognized name when he filibustered the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA in 2013. That time it was to discuss both issues of privacy and the country’s drone program abroad. It was widely praised by voters, activists, pundits, politicians, and celebrities across the political spectrum.
In the wake of a victory on tax reform, Republicans have to pass at least a short-term funding bill by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. But what would a temporary shutdown mean against going through a proper legislative process of discussing and debating legislation that impacts the rights of American citizens? Is protecting FISA worth a shutdown for congressional leaders?
It looks like we will see.