Rand Paul stalls Senate action on Patriot Act for nearly 11 hours

“Are you really willing to give up your liberty for security?” Paul asked during his marathon 11-hour speech Wednesday.
By Danielle Haynes and Doug G. Ware  |  May 21, 2015 at 12:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 20 (UPI) -- It wasn't quite a personal record, but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had the attention of the U.S. Senate Wednesday -- in a speech that lasted for nearly 11 hours, until there was time for no more.

Paul took control in a promised effort to keep lawmakers from reauthorizing the Patriot Act -- specifically, the part that makes it legal for the government to monitor citizens' phone records.

"Are you really willing to give up your liberty for security?" he asked.

The senator began talking at 1:18 p.m. local time and, effectively, didn't stop until the clock struck midnight. The presidential hopeful launched his speech against Section 215 of the act, which the National Security Agency uses to justify massive domestic surveillance.

The section is set to expire June 1.

A spokeswoman for Paul previously said the senator would talk "until he can no longer speak."

Paul even conceded that he cannot prevent the Patriot Act's reauthorization because he doesn't have enough votes, but was in it for the duration Wednesday -- occasionally getting help from other senators to drag out the delay.

"The people don't want the bulk collection of their records, and if we were listening, we would hear that," Paul said.

Finally, Paul left the floor at around midnight when the session closed for the day.

A candidate for president in 2016, Paul has less support among his colleagues than he did the last time he led such a delay. He could keep going Thursday, but whether he will remains to be seen.

If he does continue, he must cede control of the Senate at 1 p.m. local time, when a vote on the TPP will be held.

Because of procedural rules, Paul would be stopped in the middle of his speech -- should he still be speaking -- at about 1 p.m. without actually delaying any action on the Patriot Act, Politico reported. His speech could harm the Republican cause when it comes to the TPP vote Thursday. He might prevent amendment votes from happening.

Some Senate Democrats said the timing made them think Paul was perhaps attempting to filibuster the TPP deal.

While Paul spoke for a long period of time Wednesday, it's not even his personal best. In 2013, he led a 13-hour filibuster -- and subsequently vowed to wear tennis shoes the next time he did so, due to the standing involved.

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