Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has spent much of the week telling anyone who’ll listen how much he hates the bipartisan budget compromise. “It is horrible, it’s hard for me not to use profanity describing it,” the Kentucky Republican said on Tuesday.
But the senator, who also happens to be seeking the GOP presidential nomination, also vowed to take concrete steps to obstruct the process. Calling the agreement “rotten,” Paul said yesterday, “I’m going to filibuster, as soon as I get done with this presidential debate thing. I’m going back to Washington and I will commence filibustering it starting tomorrow afternoon.”
In fact, the Washington Post reported, “Rand Paul says he hates the budget deal and is promising to arrive back in Washington on Thursday to register his protest with a good, old fashioned filibuster.”
That sounds exciting! How’d it work out?
“I rise in opposition to raising the debt ceiling, in particular to raising the debt ceiling without getting any type of spending reform or budgetary reform,” the Kentucky Republican … said from the Senate floor. “We will be raising the debt ceiling in an unlimited fashion. We will be giving President Obama a free pass.”Paul’s office noted that he would be speaking “at length”; Paul spoke from the floor for approximately 20 minutes [emphasis added].
A reliable source confirmed that Rand Paul, who finds it difficult “not to use profanity” when talking about the budget agreement, wrapped up his “filibuster” after 18 minutes and 40 seconds.
Substantively, listening to Paul complain about Congress paying its debts for the things lawmakers have already bought was annoying, but even putting this aside, today’s stunt was clearly the Worst. Filibuster. Ever.
Now, I realize that this was never going to be an actual filibuster. The Republican senator was really just planning to take up time that needs to elapse anyway before the chamber votes on the package. Even by congressional standards, this was grandstanding for the sake of grandstanding – Paul’s plan to speak “at length” would serve no practical or procedural purpose.
But if the senator is going to make such a fuss about how much he hates the budget deal, and his office is going to tell everyone about his audacious “filibuster” plans, maybe he can stand his ground and make his case for more than 20 minutes?
Postscript: If you missed last night’s news, the budget deal passed the House late yesterday afternoon, 266 to 167. Most House Republicans voted against it – which, under the “Hastert Rule” Paul Ryan has vowed to honor, means it shouldn’t have been allowed on the floor – though John Boehner decided he just didn’t care anymore.