Filibuster gut Senator Rand Paul gets up to speak against Barack Obama's drones... and keeps going for 12 hours

Rand Paul spent most of the day and night on the Senate floor

New York

When Rand Paul – the junior Republican Senator from Kentucky and flag-bearer for the US libertarian movement long championed by his father Ron – began speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday morning, everyone expected him to criticise the Obama administration for its deadly unmanned drone programme.

No one, though, expected him to keep going for nearly twelve hours.

Paul has been a vocal critic of the drone policy, and used a debate over the the President’s decision to nominate John Brennan, his national security advisor and architect of the expanded program, to lead the CIA as a occasion to highlight his concerns. He was particularly incensed by the administration’s suggestion earlier this week that under certain circumstances it could countenance the use of deadly drone strikes against Americans on US soil. Today, in the wake of Paul’s stand, the US Attorney General Eric Holder clarified that the President does not have the authority to use a weaponised drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.

Paul nonetheless scored a symbolic victory by publicising his opposition to the administration’s drone policy. By hogging the Senate floor for a day, he didn’t block the Brennan nomination - the Senate voted 63-34 to approve the President's choice today.  But Paul did succeed in delaying the vote, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday.

Paul, a favorite of the right-wing Tea Party movement, launched what in Congressional jargon is known as a talking filibuster, a procedural quirk of the American legislative system where a lone Senator with the enough stamina can keep the chamber from voting on key measures by talking and talking, and then talking some more.

The only way to override a filibuster is if a clear majority of the other Senators - at least 60 in the 100-strong chamber - move a motion to end it.

To begin with, Paul drew little attention. The Senate chamber was mostly empty on Wednesday morning, and he was expected to finish his speech and allow the vote to go ahead as planned in the afternoon. But as it became clear that he wasn’t about to give up, Paul drew support from a host of Republicans, who gave him momentary breaks by posing questions. Under Senate rules, a filibustering lawmaker can pause by yielding the floor to questions. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democratic Senator, also took part in the symbolic protest against the administration’s deadly policies.

Starting just before noon and ending shortly after one in the morning, Paul clocked up more than 12 hours on the Senate floor. “I’m very tired,” he said afterwards, according to Politico. “My legs hurt, my feet hurt, everything hurts.”

Still, he was far short of the record set by Strom Thurmond who went on for just over 24 hours in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory