Sen. Rand Paul has just wrapped a ten-and-a-half hour long speech on the Senate floor in what his office called a filibuster against the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, as part of an apparent stand against efforts by some of his Republican colleagues to extend the Patriot Act's expiring spy powers.
"There comes to a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer," Paul started. "That time is now. And I will not let the Patriot Act, the most un-patriotic of acts, go unchallenged."
Paul took the podium at 1:18 p.m. and left the floor at 11:49 p.m. Here's what happened, and what's coming next.
After he walked off the Senate floor, the Kentucky senator told reporters he was "tired, voice is worn out, ready to go home."
But Paul didn't feel like his time and energy were for nothing. Business shoes in hand, a weary Paul said "we accomplished something by having, you know, it was kind of nice to have bipartisan support."
Paul said that even though he didn't last until midnight, he still believed he had slowed down the clock by a day on procedural advancement on any Patriot Act reauthorization. But an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the theatrics matter little. "Cloture on trade would be tomorrow either way. Patriot Act is after that," the aide said.
Because McConnell did not file for cloture by Tuesday evening, it was already unlikely the Senate could act on the Patriot Act before the House goes on recess tomorrow, given the drawn-out parliamentary process of the upper chamber. Unless the Senate is willing to stay in town over the weekend and approve the House-passed Freedom Act, it appears increasingly likely that we are headed for a full expiration of the law's three surveillance authorities, which sunset on June 1.
Paul, while talking to reporters, took a jab at President Obama for not ending the NSA's bulk phone-records program unilaterally. Obama "needs to step up and be a little more of a leader in getting us out of this mess," he said.
Noting support from Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, his presidential rival, Paul said "We're not exactly [on] the same page but I think we're all opponents of the bulk collection." Both Lee and Cruz support the USA Freedom Act, while Paul says it does not go far enough.
Since Paul didn't speak past midnight, the week's schedule appears to remain unchanged. Earlier in the night, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that if Paul talked into Thursday, it would hold up possible consideration of a Patriot Act extension and throw off the Senate's calendar before breaking for recess.
11:45 p.m.: We're winding down. After Sen. Ted Cruz's fiery speech, a tired Paul took the podium for a final hurrah. "My voice is rapidly leaving, and my bedtime has long since past," he said, before launching into a summary of what he's been saying for almost 10 and a half hours. "Bulk collection must end, and I think we have the votes to end it now," Paul said.
11:29 p.m.: At last, Ted Cruz stands with Rand. Sen. Ted Cruz joined Paul to rail against the Patriot Act late Wednesday evening, just before 11:30 p.m. Cruz is the third Republican to join Paul on the floor.
The Texas Republican praised Paul for having "altered this debate" over NSA surveillance.
Cruz presided over the Senate for a bit earlier in the evening but stepped down to the floor to join Paul's efforts.
Cruz is running for the GOP nomination for president, as is Paul. Sen. Marco Rubio is currently presiding, meaning three Republican White House contenders are currently in the chamber. A Paul-sanctioned super PAC that is backing his presidential bid earlier mocked Cruz on Twitter for not #StandingWithRand.
Cruz began talking up the virtues of the House-passed USA Freedom Act. Though Cruz supports the bill, he is only one of five GOP co-sponsors in the Senate. Paul believes the bill does not enough, while Rubio wants to preserve the Patriot Act's spying authorities and the NSA's bulk data regime.
Cruz emphasized that a straight extension of the Patriot Act provisions that the NSA uses to justify its surveillance program would not be acceptable.
"It is abundantly, abundantly clear that a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act ain't passing this body, and it certainly ain't passing the House of Representatives."
Cruz spent much of his speech focusing on the personal, saying that standing on the floor with Paul and Sen. Mike Lee reminded him of The Blues Brothers and getting the band back together.
"I said many times I will go to my grave in debt to Sen. Rand Paul that the first opportunity I had to speak on the Senate floor was in support of his epic filibuster," Cruz said.
11:25 p.m.: Rand Paul is now selling a "filibuster starter pack." This talk-a-thon is about more than just national security, the power of government, and privacy rights. It's also about Rand Paul and his presidential ambitions. The latest example: you can now buy yourself a "filibuster starter pack" at Paul's online campaign store, as the senator's Twitter account alerted followers to.
The kit is $30 and includes, per the site, a t-shirt that reads "The NSA knows I bought this Rand Paul tshirt," a bumper sticker that says the same, just about buying a sticker, and a "Spy blocker" for your computer camara.
11:16 p.m.: Patriot Act defender Marco Rubio is now presiding over Paul's Patriot Act takedown. Another GOP presidential candidate is now presiding over Paul's "filibuster." Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida took over the duties to run the floor from Sen. Ted Cruz.
Rubio has vociferously defended the NSA's surveillance powers, once penning an op-ed calling for the permanent extension of the Patriot Act's spy provisions.
Rubio was spotted intently reading a magazine—using a pen to go line by line—as Sen. Lee spoke from the floor. Cruz, meanwhile, took a seat to Lee's right, indicating he may end up joining the talk-a-thon after all.
11:10 p.m.: Rand Paul's biggest House fans join him on Senate floor. A handful of House members gathered behind Paul on the Senate floor late Wednesday to cheer him on. The gaggle included Republican Rep. Tom Massie and Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both of whom voted against the House-passed USA Freedom Act last week on grounds it does not do enough to curb NSA surveillance. Massie has long been a big political ally of Paul's.
Paul tonight has repeatedly said he is concerned the Freedom Act needs to do more before it can earn his support.
10:43 p.m.: Mike Lee returns. The tea-party Republican from Utah has reemerged to keep the Patriot Act talk-a-thon going. Lee is one of two Republicans to speak on the floor for Paul's "filibuster," along with Sen. Steve Daines of Montana.
Lee is a lead sponsor of the House-passed USA Freedom Act, alongside Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. Though seven Democrats have supported Paul on the floor today, Leahy is not one them.
10:25 p.m.: Cruz's office says he was scheduled to be presiding officer. In a strange twist of fate, Sen. Ted Cruz was already on the books to preside over the Senate tonight, his office says. Many expected Cruz to support Paul during his speech.
10:10 p.m.: Sen. Ted Cruz arrives, but not to help. After nearly nine hours, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz arrived on the floor. But he wasn't there to stand with the long-suffering Kentucky senator—he is presiding over the nearly-empty senate.
Cruz, who, like Paul, is running for the GOP presidential nomination, is a co-sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, which would rein in parts of the NSA and effectively end its bulk collection of U.S. call data. He is one of five Republicans to cosponsor the measure. Paul has said the bill does not go far enough.
Blumenthal talked about the secrecy of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and pressed for more transparency and oversight of the judicial body, which some privacy advocates have derided as a "rubber stamp" for the NSA's surveillance orders. Blumenthal called for an adversarial body to argue against the government before the FISA Court.
9:48 p.m.: Ron Paul is standing with his son. The Campaign for Liberty, the organization led by former Rep. Ron Paul, tweeted out a picture of Paul and his wife standing by a TV tuned to C-SPAN 2. "C4L Chairman @RonPaul and his wife Carol stand with their son Rand to end NSA spying. Do you? #StandWithRand"
9:43 p.m. Rand Paul is slowing down. Over the last twenty minutes, Paul has paused for prolonged moments, swaying back and forth as he shuffles through the papers on his desk. His voice sounds hoarse, and he has fallen silent to pop a candy into his mouth a few times. If you were wondering if talking for so long with few breaks can get physically taxing, he's your proof.
9:03 p.m.: Wyden returns. Sen. Ron Wyden, who was the first senator to join Paul several hours ago, is now back on the floor. The Oregon Democrat discussed his concerns about so-called "backdoor search loopholes" that can be used by the intelligence community to pry into the digital communications of Americans who correspond with foreigners.
Wyden then praised Paul's stamina and determination before pledging to return later in the evening. "I intend to rejoin my colleague before long," Wyden said.
8:57 p.m.: After listening for hours, Sen. Cantwell speaks. Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell, who has been sitting at a desk for much of the evening—certainly longer than any other senator—stood to ask Paul about encryption technology. She follows Sens. Wyden, Heinrich, Manchin, Coons, and Tester as the sixth Democrat to speak with Paul.
8:51 p.m.: McConnell aide: If Paul talks past midnight, he will delay NSA consideration. An aide for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Wednesday that if Paul continues his talk-a-thon past midnight, he will succeed in delaying the Senate's possible consideration of any Patriot Act extension, possibly into the weekend or later.
This is significant because the House is due to pack its bags and leave town tomorrow. Because the Patriot Act's spy authorities expire on June 1, the Senate may not be able to pass any surveillance legislation in time before the lower chamber recesses until next month.
If Paul makes it past midnight, the McConnell aide said, he will delay when the Senate—which still needs to address pending trade legislation—can file cloture on any Patriot Act legislation.
Earlier Wednesday, the Obama administration said the NSA would start shutting down its phone-records dragnet this Friday in order to have it turned off completely by June 1 unless Congress figured out a way forward before then.
It is unclear if McConnell would have filed cloture today had he been given the opportunity, however. And this all may be a moot point, as it is unclear if either the Freedom Act or a short-term "clean" reauthorization has the 60 votes necessary to advance through the Senate.
8:12 p.m.: Paul: Freedom Act allows for continued spying. Paul has said he's unhappy with the House-passed USA Freedom Act because it doesn't go far enough to stop NSA surveillance. He outlined his gripes with the bill on the floor, saying that the liability protection it offers telephone companies is proof that it doesn't limit the spying programs enough.
"One question I would ask, if there was anybody that would actually tell you the answer, would be: If we already gave them liability protection under the Patriot Act, why are they getting it again under the USA Freedom Act unless we're asking them to do something new that they didn't have permission for?" Paul asked.
"The other problem with the USA Freedom Act is: If you think bulk collection is wrong, why do they need new authorities? Why are we giving them some new authorities?" he continued.
7:55 p.m.: Paul: This is just the tip of the iceberg. Paul is under no illusions that letting portions of the Patriot Act expire would end what he calls illegal spying. While the NSA's bulk surveillance is a high-profile target, Paul says he thinks there are many similar programs that haven't been revealed.
"If we decide to fix bulk records and try to do something about this, I think, injustice, the main thing is we should be aware that this isn't the only program. There's probably a dozen programs. There's probably another dozen we haven't even heard of that they won't tell any of us about," Paul said.
"And realize that they're not asking Congress for permission. They are doing whatever they want," he continued. "We did not give them permission under the Patriot Act to do bulk collection of phone records. They are doing it with no authority, or inherent authority, or some other authority, because the courts have already told them that there is no authority under the Patriot Act."
7:47 p.m.: Paul goes off on EPA overreach. To illustrate the problems that come with big government, Paul turned away from the NSA and toward the EPA, an agency much reviled among conservatives unhappy with government overinvolvement.
Paul brought up a case that saw a man and his daughter sentenced to 10 years in prison for "putting clean dirt on his own land."
"That's what's happening in America. So you wonder why some of us worry about our records being snatched up? We're worried about our own government's run amok, that our own government's out of control and that our own government's not really paying attention to us," Paul said. "To put a 70-year-old man in prison for ten years for putting clean dirt on his own land, the person that did that ought to go to jail, in fact they ought to be put in a stockade and publicly flogged and then made to pay penance for a decade for doing something so stupid."
Paul appeared to be referring to this 2005 case. According to an EPA administrator, "the defendants destroyed valuable wetlands and victimized the residents of Big Hill Acres, who ended up with polluted homes and yards with leaking sewage."
7:13 p.m.: Rand's getting a lot of help, but where is Ted Cruz? Two Republicans and five Democrats have joined Paul's extended oratorical demonstration against the Patriot Act, but one senator is so far notably absent: Ted Cruz.
Cruz, who, like Paul, is running for president, has frequently lambasted the NSA for violating Americans' privacy rights with its sweeping surveillance programs. Cruz is also one of five GOP cosponsors of the USA Freedom Act, the reform bill that passed the House and would effectively end the NSA's domestic phone-records dragnet.
But Cruz, who was spotted in the Capitol earlier Wednesday, has so far not appeared on the floor to lend support to Paul. Cruz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment asking whether the Texas senator had plans to join the "filibuster."
6:45 p.m.: Rand Paul takes on "people who believe that the inherent authorities of the president are unlimited." Paul said the bulk collection program's beginnings, during which it was not sanctioned by law, fell outside the bounds of a president's authority.
"For the first several years we did bulk collection, they just did it," Paul said. "They just said it was under the inherent authorities of the president. This should scare us because there are people who believe that the inherent authorities of the president are unlimited. That would not be a president. There would be another name for that."
It's relatively rare for my colleague from Kentucky and I to come to the floor in agreement on an issue," Coons said. "But it has happened before on exactly this issue."
6:35 p.m.: Standing with Rand outside the Capitol. About 25 "grassroots" supporters of Rand Paul gathered outside the Capitol Wednesday to show solidarity for his stand against the Patriot Act and support his presidential campaign. Chanting "stand with Rand" and "President Paul," the group was nearly matched by the number of journalists snapping photos of the demonstration.
Cliff Maloney, 24, organized the event on Facebook. Maloney, who works for Young Americans for Liberty, said he supports Paul because of his stances on privacy issues and ability to reach out to younger voters.
"Look at today," Maloney said. "He's on the Senate floor filibustering [for digital privacy rights]. And that's something young voters care about."
6:20 p.m.: Sen. Joe Manchin Spars with Paul over USA Freedom Act. The Democrat from West Virginia joined Paul on the floor just after 6 p.m. "My good friend, I don't always agree with you on every issue, but when it comes to this nation's intelligence gathering and security, we agree more than we don't," Manchin said.
Manchin went on to express his support for the NSA reform bill that the House passed last week. "I believe this bill, USA Freedom 2015, moves us in a positive direction, ends the bulk data collection program, and ensures that the collection of data is related to a relevant, particular terrorist investigation," Manchin said.
When Paul took the podium again, he laid out his concerns with the act that Manchin was touting. "I want to like it, and I want to because it ends bulk collection," Paul said. But he said the fact that the bill allows the government to search for a person's records leaves a loophole.
"See, the big thing for me is a warrant should be individualized and I'm worried when you use the word "person" if it can be replaced with the word verizon and still collect all the records," Paul said. The problem stems from the legal practice of treating corporations as people.
"I don't know if they're insurmountable, but those are a couple concerns," Paul said.
"I spent more than 12 years in the technology sector before being elected to Congress," Daines said. "I know firsthand the power that big data holds. I also know the great risks that arise when this power is abused. There is a clear and a direct threat to American civil liberties that comes from the mass collection of our personal information and our phone records."
Daines is one of five GOP cosponsors of the reform-minded USA Freedom Act, which passed the House easily last week. Paul is not a cosponsor of the measure, which he says does not go far enough to limit the Patriot Act's spying provisions.
It is expected nearly all Senate Democrats would vote for the Freedom Act, with Sen. Bill Nelson being the lone holdout. But it remains unclear if the bill has enough Republican support to reach a filibuster-proof 60-vote threshold, especially with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whipping against it.
5:53 p.m.: What Rand Paul wants. Paul began going into detail over the last twenty minutes about the amendments he and Sen. Ron Wyden are "most likely" to offer on legislation seeking to reauthorize the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. Many of the amendments would push for privacy safeguards that the two civil-liberties advocates have long championed.
The first amendment, Paul said, would prohibit the government from mandating that tech firms create so-called surveillance "backdoors" in their products, which the NSA could access. "I know facebook has objected to this and fought them on this, but our amendment would say that the government just can't do this," Paul said.
A second amendment would "end bulk collection and replace it with nothing," Paul said. It would close a loophole that allows back-door searches, he said, referring to the NSA's practice of using a rule that allows it to search the foreigners' data to capture information on U.S. citizens. The amendment would also require a "constitutional advocate" to be present in order to argue against the government in intelligence courts.
That amendment, Paul said, would also enact certain privacy protections for Americans whose digital records are held by third-party companies.
Another amendment Paul wants to introduce would make warrantless spying on Americans illegal "in non-terror" cases. He said the amendment would protect Americans against the government using a warrant intended for foreign terrorists that's easier to obtain.
A fourth amendment would require courts to approve national security letters to "make them more like warrants," Paul said. So-called NSLs compel companies to hand over communications data or financial records of certain users for the purposes of a national security investigation. The decades-old investigative tool that has grown in importance and frequency of use since the Patriot Act's passage. Hundreds of thousands of letters have been used by the Justice Department since Sept. 11, 2001, and are often accompanied by gag orders.
Paul continued to tick off several other amendment ideas, including additional protections for whistleblowers, allowing for U.S. citizens to appeal surveillance orders handed down by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and implementing limitations to the Reagan-era Executive Order 12333, which some privacy advocates say allows the NSA the majority of its spying power.
5:50 p.m.: Supports of Rand to Rally in Capitol. A group of "grassroots supporters" for Paul's efforts to block the Patriot Act will gather at 6 p.m. outside the U.S. Capitol, according to a Facebook event page. The event calls for supporters to gather on the Senate steps "on the west front side" that face the White House. Eighty-nine people have currently RSVP'd for the Stand with Rand party.
The New Mexico senator took the opportunity to cite a recent federal appeals court decision deeming the NSA's phone-records dragnet illegal as proof the Patriot Act's spying provisions cannot be renewed without substantial changes akin to what the USA Freedom Act offers.
"Why on Earth, I would ask you, why on Earth would we extend a law that this court has found to be illegal?" Heinrich asked. "Now, given the overwhelming evidence that the current bulk collection program is not only unnecessary but also illegal, i think we've reached a critical turning point
Heinrich serves on the intelligence committee along with Sen. Ron Wyden, who spoke on the floor earlier. The two have frequently teamed up to question the intelligence community's broad surveillance powers.
4:46 p.m.: Lee makes his case for a vote on USA Freedom. Sen. Mike Lee said he was open to amendments to his NSA reform package, the USA Freedom Act, but that it would be irresponsible for the Senate to not take up consideration with sufficient time for discussion.
"If there are those who have concerns with the legislation passed by the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 338-88, I welcome their input, I welcome any amendments they may have, I welcome the opportunity to make the bill better to make it more compatible with this or that interest," Lee said. "We cannot continue to function by cliff. Government by cliff is a recipe for disaster."
4:27 p.m.: Wyden out, Lee in. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, joined Paul on the Senate floor to give the Kentucky senator's vocal cords a rest. Lee has been an outspoken supporter of reforming the NSA's surveillance programs, and is one of the co-sponsors of the USA Freedom Act. Lee acknowledged that his position is not as extreme as Paul's—he does not support allowing the Patriot Act to expire, as Paul does—but he offered his support on the floor.
"Let me be clear at the outset that while the senator from Kentucky and I come to different conclusions with regard to the specific question as to whether we should allow section 215 of the Patriot Act to expire, I absolutely stand with the junior senator from Kentucky," Lee said when he took the podium.
On Tuesday. Lee asked the Senate to table discussion of the trade bill to begin debating the USA Freedom Act. The move was blocked by an objection from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
4: 17 p.m.: What do other Republican senators think of Paul's "filibuster"? Some of Paul's Republican colleagues attempted to downplay the significance of Paul taking over the Senate floor on Wednesday. "Oh that'll be, you know, 12 hours, and he'll get a lot of publicity for a day or so, but it won't affect the process," Sen. John McCain said Tuesday, when asked about Paul's expected filibuster.
Republican leadership seemed relieved Paul chose to take the floor during dead time Wednesday, a move they anticipate may mean he won't get in the way later this week when the chamber actually considers a Patriot Act extension. "I guess if he's going to, doing it now as opposed to doing it on the weekend is maybe preferable," Sen. John Thune told an AP reporter.
"I don't think those inside Washington are listening very well," Paul said during his speech, in apparent recognition of his colleagues' unwillingness to let the NSA's bulk call-records program lapse.
3:46 p.m.: Backup is here, and it's a Democrat. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took the podium to relieve Paul more than two hours into Paul's floor speech. Wyden is Paul's partner in opposing a straight reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and he is the only other senator who has also promised to filibuster an extension of the NSA's spying programs. "This will not be the last time we are back on the floor," Wyden said as he took over for Paul.
Paul and Wyden are somewhat strange bedfellows, as Wyden has indicated he would vote for the reform package the House passed last week, known as the USA Freedom Act. Paul contends it does not go far enough. But the bipartisan pair is co-sponsoring a number of amendments they say will make the USA Freedom Act go farther in limiting the NSA's surveillance powers.
"A number of us—myself specifically—have been concerned that the majority leader and other supporters of business as usual on bulk collection of all of these phone records would somehow try to take advantage of our current discussions and try to, in effect, sneak through a motion to extend section 215 of the USA Patriot Act," Wyden said. "As long as the senator from Kentucky has the floor, that cannot happen."
"My colleague from Kentucky has been an invaluable ally on this particular cause since he arrived in the Senate," the Oregon Democrat continued.
3:41 p.m.: Hitler appears. It took a little over two hours for the first mention of Hitler during Paul's speech. "Any time you make an analogy to horrific people in history, a Mussolini or a Hitler, people say, 'Oh, you're exaggerating, you're talking about—it's hyperbole. And maybe it is. And particularly to accuse anybody of that is a horrific analogy, and I'm not doing that," Paul said. "But what I would say is that if you are not concerned that democracy could produce bad people, I don't think you're really thinking this through too much."
3:20 p.m.: Paul goes after Graham. Paul attacked fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for his characteristically hawkish views on surveillance and due process. Paul seized on Graham's comment earlier this week about how he would deal with anyone who's thinking about joining the Islamic State terrorist group.
"One senator said recently—i find this really hard to believe—he said, well, when they ask you for a judge, just drone them," Paul said. "Ha ha. Same guy said when they ask you for a lawyer, tell them to shut up."
Paul, who is a Republican candidate for president, has for weeks threatened that he would filibuster any attempt to reauthorize the Patriot Act authorities due to sunset on June 1. Although the Senate was not taking up votes Wednesday afternoon, a Paul spokesman called the speech a "filibuster" and said the Kentucky Republican "will speak until he can no longer speak."
The timing of Paul's speech took some observers by surprise, as the Senate has not yet moved to consider the Patriot Act and is still trudging through an ongoing fight over an international trade deal. Because Paul was not actually objecting to any specific vote, his speech does not appear to qualify as a formal filibuster.
Procedural votes could still come up later this week on the Freedom Act and McConnell's short-term extension. But the Senate would likely need to stay through the weekend to get through the full process of voting on the opposing measures, as McConnell had not filed for cloture on either option by Tuesday.
Paul could further stall each vote and force the Senate to stay in town through the weekend. But his decision to eat up time on Wednesday likely indicates he does not want to cause party leaders that headache. Either way, the Senate almost certainly won't resolve the matter before the House leaves town on Thursday, and an expiration of the Patriot Act's spy provisions looks increasingly likely.
Paul opposes both McConnell's push and the Freedom Act, which he says does not go far enough in ushering in surveillance reforms.
Paul's stand against government surveillance comes as three provisions of the Patriot Act are due to expire on June 1, including Section 215, which the NSA uses to justify its bulk collection of U.S. call records.
Congress has reauthorized the authorities in the past, but the current expiration is the first to occur after the Edward Snowden revelations, which began two years ago and publicly exposed for the first time the NSA's phone dragnet.
Last week the House overwhelmingly passed a reform package called the USA Freedom Act, which would effectively end the NSA's domestic phone records program. Instead, telephone companies would be relied on to keep the records and hand them over to the government on an as-needed basis after judicial approval is obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
But that measure has run hard into a wall in the upper chamber, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a number of GOP defense hawks have said it could jeopardize national security. McConnell and his flock prefer a "clean" reauthorization to the Patriot Act's spying authorities, and have most recently pushed for a two-month extension to allow more time for debate.
Paul said his stand will force the Senate to debate the surveillance programs, which he says did not happen when the Patriot Act was first introduced in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"The Patriot Act—I'm not sure unless we insert ourselves a at this moment that we'll have any debate over it. It's been set to expire for three years. We've known it was coming. And the question is, do we not have enough time because we just don't care enough?"
In 2013, Paul famously spoke for 13 hours on the Senate floor on John Brennan's nomination to run the CIA, attacking the nominee and the Obama administration for its drone policy.
Within twenty minutes of the beginning of Paul's speech, his campaign sent an email to supporters asking for donations. "I will not rest. I will not back down. I will not yield one inch in this fight so long as my legs can stand," the email, which was signed by Paul, read.
The campaign took a dig at senators eager to leave town for the long weekend. "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," the email said. "I have news for them. They are going NOWHERE."
Quoting founding fathers and waxing philosophical on the importance of privacy, Paul called for President Obama to immediately issue an executive order to end the NSA's surveillance programs.
"For over a year now, he has said the program is illegal and yet he does nothing," Paul said on the Senate floor. "He says, well, Congress can get rid of the Patriot Act. Congress can get rid of the bulk collection. And yet he has the power to do it at his fingertips."
"He began this illegal program," Paul continued. "The court has informed him that the program is illegal. He has every power to stop it and yet the president does nothing."
Paul has said he would end the NSA's surveillance programs were he elected president.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.