Protesting the soon-to-expire Patriot Act, presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul held the floor of the Senate for 11 hours late Wednesday in a filibuster-like speech railing against the law and the government’s continued surveillance of Americans’ phone records.
“I don’t think we’re any safer looking at every American’s records,” Paul said.
As NPR’s Ailsa Chang reports, the Senate is expected to vote this week on a House-passed bill that would prevent the government from collecting and storing phone records, but it would let the government get that data from phone companies with a court order. Paul opposes that bill or any plan that would continue surveillance of phone records.
Paul said the Patriot Act “isn’t about the vast majority of good people who work in government. It’s about preventing the bad apple — it’s about preventing the one bad person that might get into government and decide to abuse the rights of individuals.”
Congress has until June 1 to renew the law without it lapsing; Paul’s “filibuster” is unlikely to do more than possibly delay its passage in the Senate.
“There comes a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer,” the Kentucky senator said at 1:18 p.m. EDT when he took to the Senate floor. “That time is now, and I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged.”
The Associated Press says he finished at 11:49 p.m., having held the podium for more than 10 hours.
The AP says that Paul’s fellow Kentuckian, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said the Senate will move on the Patriot Act before the Memorial Day recess.