Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul speaks in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo/Charlie Neibergall/AP)
“The people don’t want the bulk collection of their records, and if we were listening, we would hear that,” Paul said on the Senate floor today.
Paul started his speech against the PATRIOT Act at 1:18 p.m. on Wednesday. Provisions of the PATRIOT Act, including Section 215, which authorizes the NSA’s controversial bulk collection of phone records, is set to expire on June 1. Paul, known for his libertarian leanings, has said he does not want the program to be reauthorized.
Paul’s speech could become a flash-point in the 2016 campaign, with candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and potential candidates Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham advocating for the extension of the PATRIOT Act.
Paul’s office said the senator will “speak until he can no longer speak,” and it could be a lengthy talk-a-thon if the past is any indication.
In 2013, Paul famously filibustered for nearly 13 hours against drone strikes on U.S. citizens on foreign soil.
While Paul’s office is labeling today’s endeavor as a “filibuster,” for now, it is actually just one really long speech, since it is not blocking or delaying action on a bill. The longest Senate floor speech in Senate history took place in 1957 when Sen. Strom Thurmond spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the 1957 civil rights bill. Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2013 speech over health care that led to the government shutdown was the fourth-longest filibuster ever, coming in at 21 hours and 19 minutes.
Paul’s 2013 filibuster over drones was the 10th longest speech, clocking in at 12 hours and 52 minutes.
Prior to taking the Senate floor today, Paul recorded a video explaining why he decided to filibuster the PATRIOT Act.