By Ramsey Cox
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ended his filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to cheers and applause in the Senate chamber.
Paul used the rare talking filibuster for nearly 13 hours on Wednesday, spilling over into early Thursday morning, when he finally yielded the floor at 12:39 a.m.
The Kentucky senator said he believed the White House would give him a response on the drone program in the morning. Paul wants President Obama to say he will not kill U.S. citizens on American soil with drone attacks if they are non-enemy combatants. He says U.S. citizens deserve due process under the Fifth Amendment.
“I’m hopeful that we have drawn attention to this issue, that this issue will not fade away, and that the president will come up with a response,” Paul said in his closing remarks.
Paul’s filibuster was initially greeted with skepticism when he began, as he spoke for three hours alone about the administration’s refusal to rule out drone strikes on American soil.
But as the day continued, one GOP senator after another pledged support to Paul’s cause and supported him on the floor.
Paul was first joined by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah.) who said “Americans have every reason to be concerned any time the government wants to intrude on life, liberty or prosperity.”
But as Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning, several more GOP senators came to join Paul in support of his filibuster.
Late-coming GOP Sens. John Thune (S.D.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) also questioned why the Obama administration wouldn’t simply say it would not kill U.S. citizens on American soil in drone attacks.
The filibuster also attracted a Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), who said he “appreciated” Paul’s effort to draw attention to the issue.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) filed the cloture motion on Brennan’s nomination before the Senate adjourned.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that he still hopes to have a vote on the confirmation of Brennan on Thursday if he can reach an agreement to do so with GOP members.