It was after 1:00 a.m. when Sen. Rand Paul finally ended what his staff had dubbed the "#filiblizzard. " The Kentucky Republican (and friends like Mitch McConnell) had taken to the Senate floor to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director.
Paul brought two binders with him and declared that he'd "speak until I can no longer speak." He started talking at 11:47 a.m. EST. He ended 13 hours later. “I would go for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I’ve discovered that there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here,” Mr. Paul said. (Senator Thurmond's filibuster record was 28 hours.) He summed up his dramatic day: “I thank you very much for the forbearance and I yield the floor,” he said. Applause. Curtain.
Senator Paul was demanding answers to questions about the Obama administration's controversial targeted killing program, and the veil of secrecy surrounding its policy on drone strikes.
In a letter to Paul, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday presented a hypothetical scenario in which the president had the authority in "extraordinary circumstances" to use drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil.
"It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," Holder wrote.
Paul was unsatisfied with responses he received in letters from both Brennan and Holder on the issue. He voiced concerns with Holder's statement, saying the attorney general's "refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening." And though Paul said Brennan's letter explained that the CIA doesn't have the authority to okay these operations, he complained that further questions remained unanswered.
Rep. Rand Paul's official Twitter account was also live-tweeting the action on the floor:
Why isn't there more moral outrage? Why isn't every Senator coming down to say let's go ahead and hold this nomination?— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) March 6, 2013
I will not sit quietly and let President Obama shred the Constitution. #filiblizzard— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) March 6, 2013
In 2010, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., notably conducted an 8 1/2-hour long filibuster on the Senate floor in protest of a proposed tax compromise.
You can watch Paul's filibuster live on video from C-SPAN.
Update at 3:19 pm: After more than three hours of speaking, Republican Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz joined Paul's filibuster on the floor.
Update at 4:36 pm: Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida were also among the group to join Paul's filibuster.
Update at 5:18 pm: Other senators also joined in, including Texas Republican and Minority Whip John Cornyn.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 1:40 a.m. to note that the filibuster had ended.