Rand Paul, brave conservative hero, has had enough of this shit. The fading Republican presidential candidate, horrified by the excesses of the budget deal passed by the House, and its failure to address America’s growing debt, knew in his bones this was a time for action.
“I will stand firm. I will spend every ounce of energy to stop [the deal],” he said. “I will begin tomorrow to filibuster it. And I ask everyone in America to call Congress tomorrow and say enough is enough; no more debt.”
When Rand Paul says he’s going to filibuster something, by God he means it. As recently as May of this year Paul gripped the Senate and brought the Western world to a screeching, astonished halt with a 10-hour stand against the NSA’s spying program. In 2013 he staged the ninth longest filibuster in Senate history, holding up John Brennan’s confirmation as Director of the CIA by keeping the floor for more than 12 hours.
And now, Rand Paul had set his sights on the budget deal hammered out between his party’s leadership and President Obama.
It would take guts. It would take stamina. It would take the monetary support of his Twitter followers.
“We will find out who the true conservatives in this town are,” Paul said as he planted himself in the chamber and vowed to talk until the scheduled 1 a.m. vote Friday.
At 2:46 p.m. this afternoon, Mr. Paul took the floor. And when I say “took it,” I mean he fuckin’ took it. Like a goddamn whirlwind. He spoke forcefully. He spoke with confidence. He spoke with the righteousness of a man committed to doing whatever it takes and going to whatever lengths to see justice done in the world.
He spoke for 20 minutes, and then he noped on outta there.
Later, while not filibustering, because filibustering is a specific thing, and this is most certainly not that, Mr. Paul let it be known that the effort continues despite it ending after just 20 minutes:
“We’re in the middle of a filibuster right now,” Paul told a CNN interviewer. “It is absolutely without a doubt a filibuster. I know. I’m here doing it. A filibuster is when you have debate and it’s shut down by getting 60 votes.”
Here is something that is definitionally not part of a Senate filibuster: talking to a CNN interviewer while not filibustering the Senate. This is like me saying I am making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I am standing just outside of a kitchen where some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been made over the years.
Whenever the Senate takes up a bill, the majority leader first presents a cloture petition which sets up a vote to end debate on the measure, but two days have to pass before the cloture vote can occur.
In this case, the House of Representatives passed the budget deal Wednesday and sent it to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately filed a cloture petition, setting up Friday as the earliest the Senate could vote to end debate on the measure.
Don’t tell that to Rand Paul, he does not want to hear it.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Paul’s Senate office said, “Sen. Paul has been and continues to filibuster the unlimited debt limit increase. Tonight at 1:00 am, the Majority Leader will attempt to end Sen. Paul’s filibuster with a cloture vote. If 41 Senators stand with Sen. Paul, the filibuster will continue.”
Heroic Rand Paul, bravely using the filibuster—which exists to prevent a vote from taking place—to, umm, annoy his fellow Senators for 20 minutes during the mandated stretch of time in which the vote literally cannot take place. And prepared to continue bravely filibustering the vote even after it has been completed and gone his way.
What a time to be alive.