Rand Paul "orates" the Patriot Act

Rand Paul "orates" the Patriot Act

by digby

Via Roll Call:

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.

He's was joined by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, but no Republicans have signed on. I'm fairly sure that NSA reform is no longer fashionable on the right now that they've gotten back in touch with their inner authoritarian.

Paul's claim that he will not "allow" them to do this is a bit of an exaggeration. He's not actually filibustering and there undoubtedly are not enough votes to sustain one if he did, so this is mostly theater. But it's good he's doing it, if only to get this stuff in the record. I'm pessimistic about the "reforms" in the USA Patriot Act ending up being improvements (it would be a first) but it's certainly good to try.