In an historic moment echoing the Senate’s great history of long, passionate speeches, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) held the floor for nearly 13 hours yesterday in a filibuster demanding answers from the Obama administration on its legal authority to use force against U.S. citizens overseas.
Roll Call wrote last night, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul’s Kentucky GOP colleague, arrived on the floor Wednesday evening to bring extra heft to the 12-hour ‘talking filibuster,’ saying Senate Republicans should not vote to advance [John] Brennan’s nomination until the Obama administration answers Paul’s questions on whether it believes it can use armed drones to target and kill Americans on American soil. ‘It is my view that cloture should not be invoked’ on the Brennan nomination, McConnell said, referencing a procedural motion that must be overcome for Brennan to receive a confirmation vote. McConnell added that he would vote against confirming Brennan if he gets the 60 votes for cloture when that happens.”
Speaking on the floor this morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised Sen. Paul for his efforts: “That filibuster was extended, heartfelt and important . . . . The question he raised was entirely appropriate and should have already been answered by the Obama administration. . . . [I]n reviewing Brennan’s nomination Senator Paul has asked a series of questions of the executive branch. Senator Paul has a right to ask questions of the administration, and the administration has a responsibility to answer in keeping with the rules established for oversight of intelligence activities and for protecting sensitive information. . . . What is befuddling is why the Attorney General has not directly and clearly answered the question.”
The AP adds today, “Sen. Rand Paul ended his filibuster Thursday shortly after midnight, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also a Kentucky Republican, said he would continue to oppose Brennan’s confirmation and resist ending the debate on President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the spy agency. Speaking hours later on the Senate floor, McConnell said Paul deserves an answer from Attorney General Eric Holder on whether the Obama administration has authority to use lethal force against a suspected terrorist who is a U.S. citizen. ‘It simply doesn’t have that right, and the administration should just answer the question,’ McConnell said. ‘There is no reason we cannot get this question answered today, and we should get this question answered today. Frankly, it should have been answered a long time ago.’ . . . [Paul said] the nomination was the right vehicle for a debate over what the Obama White House believes are the limits of the federal government’s ability to conduct lethal operations against suspected terrorists, he said. ‘No president has the right to say he is judge, jury and executioner,’ Paul said.”
Last night, The Washington Examiner noted, “‘[A]t whatever point we get to a cloture vote to extend debate on the nomination of Brennan, it is my view that cloture should not be invoked,’ McConnell said while participating in the filibuster on the Senate floor. ‘This is a controversial nominee. Should cloture be invoked, I intend to oppose the nomination and congratulate my colleague from Kentucky for this extraordinary effort.’”