Speaking on the Senate floor, Republican Rand Paul is actively filibustering the nomination of John Brennan as director of the CIA, citing concerns over President Obama’s policy on drones and civil liberties.
Earlier this week, Kentucky’s junior senator received a controversial response from Attorney General Eric Holder about the administration’s use of unmanned aircrafts.
Holder told Paul the president could theoretically authorize deadly force to be used against a citizen on U.S. soil without due process.
Since Wednesday morning, Paul has been delaying Brennan’s nomination and pledged to talk until he couldn’t anymore.
Paul says the White House is continuing the controversial policies of former President George W. Bush, which candidate Obama spoke out against in 2007.
“We had a president who ran for office saying your phone shouldn’t be tapped without a warrant. I happened to agree with candidate Obama. But what happened to candidate Obama who wanted to protect the right to privacy of your who doesn’t care much about your right not to be killed by a drone without any kind of judicial proceeding,” he says.
Libertarians and progressive have raised concerns over the lack of oversight regarding drone strikes abroad, and are also pressing for specific answers to how the drone program is being used domestically. Poll numbers show a majority of Americans oppose the use of drone strikes to kill fellow citizens.
In a grilling of Holder before a Senate panel on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx., asked bluntly if the Constitution allows a citizen on U.S. soil to be killed by a drone.
After a tense exchange, Holder eventually said lethal force “would not be appropriate.”
Paul says these questions are too important to ignore, and Congress needs to stand up to any abuse of executive power no matter which party occupies the White House.
“Alarm bells should go off when people tell you that the battlefield’s in America,” he says. “Because when the battlefield is in America we don’t have due process. They want the laws of war. Another way to put it is calling it martial law. That’s what they want in the United States when they say the battlefield is here.”
Paul is utilizing an old-fashioned filibuster where he is speaking on the Senate floor without yielding the floor. It is the first “talking” filibuster since independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont held up a vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts in 2010.
The White House has declined to comment on Paul’s filibuster.
After nearly 13 hours on the Senate floor, Sen. Paul ended his filibuster of the Brennan nomination.
Kentucky’s junior senator was seeking to bring attention to the Obama administration’s drone policy and the use of unmanned aircraft strikes on U.S. citizens.
The filibuster gained national attention throughout the night as GOP senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined the effort. Only one Democratic lawmaker showed support for the filibuster, but a number of progressive groups reportedly voiced support for Paul, who raised constitutional questions over the policy.
Many observers say this effort pushes Paul to the top of the 2016 presidential race.
Paul began the filibuster at 11:47 a.m. ET on Wednesday and concluded at 12:39 a.m. on Thursday.