Senators expect more 'talking filibusters' after Rand Paul marathon

Senators in both parties say the success of Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulTalk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows Paul says president likely has authority to pardon himself Paul still supports repealing, replacing ObamaCare at the same time MORE’s old-fashioned filibuster Wednesday will inspire others to try the same stunt.

Paul made headlines with his “talking filibuster” on drones and scored several public relations coups.

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He won a new letter Thursday from Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderHolder defends Mueller: 'No basis to question the integrity of Mueller' Kamala Harris slams Sessions on criminal justice Deputy AG backs Sessions' tough on crime policy MORE answering his questions, and watching as other senators — including GOP leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTalk of Trump pardons reverberates on Sunday shows Trump backers eye GOP primary challenges for Flake, Heller Senate spending plan boosts House moderates MORE (R-Ky.) — either joined his one-man effort or praised him for drawing attention to his issue.

“I thought it was pretty effective and so I think you probably will see more of them,” said Senate GOP Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump launches all-out assault on Mueller probe Senators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan MORE (Texas).

Several senators expressed admiration a day after Paul’s filibuster that he provoked other members from both parties to listen to him from the chamber and to even enter the debate.

Freshman Democrat Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampRegulatory experts push Senate leaders for regulatory reform Why governors hold power in the battle for GOP healthcare votes Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 MORE (D-N.D.) said she thinks that will mean more traditional filibusters, and counts it as a good thing.

“I actually hope so because I think a lot was accomplished by people standing up and listening,” she told The Hill. “I sat in the chair for a lot of the filibuster and I learned a lot and really enjoyed watching the debate.”

Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeSmall farmers push for USDA reforms Trump's DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana Cruz offers bill to weaken labor board's power MORE (R-Utah) said a key moment was the appearance near the filibuster’s end by Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinTop Dem: Trump’s voter fraud commission will accomplish what Putin wants Senators who have felt McCain's wrath talk of their respect for him Graham and Kushner met to discuss immigration differences: report MORE (Ill.), the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat. He said Durbin’s decision to join in the debate — even after Paul has successfully delayed for a day a confirmation vote on President Obama’s pick to lead the CIA — was constructive.

“This is the first time this has happened in two and a half or three years, and I expect to see more of this from time to time,” said Lee, one of several GOP senators who helped Paul slog through the day.

Lee and several others said Paul's filibuster harkens back to a time when issues were openly debated in the Senate, instead of having senators speak to themselves in an empty chamber.

“This is something that the Senate could be, that it used to be, that it arguably should be,” Lee said.

Paul started his filibuster at 11:47 a.m. Wednesday, and ended it at 12:39 a.m. the next day.

John Brennan, Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, was successfully confirmed Thursday, but Paul’s filibuster wasn’t really meant to block Brennan permanently.

It was to draw attention to the issue of drones, and force Holder to say whether the U.S. has the authority to use drones to attack American citizens on U.S. soil. By Thursday afternoon, Holder wrote a two-sentence letter that ended by saying, "The answer to that question is no."

Paul’s PR success is what will likely stick in the memories of most senators. Paul started alone, but by the end he was visited by more than a dozen senators, and egged on by thousands on Twitter who begged him not to sit down.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called on other GOP senators to help Paul, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee featured the filibuster on its website and received 5,000 “likes” on Facebook in less than 30 minutes. Competition erupted on Twitter for the most clever hashtag to use in tweets.

The cascade of attention is likely turning wheels in the brains of other Senate staffers wanting to rejuvenate what is sometimes stale Senate procedure — and to bring attention to their own bosses.

But it's unclear how easily Paul’s success could be reproduced.

Jim Manley, who served as Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE's (D-Nev.) spokesman for many years, said that while he respects Paul for taking a stand on an issue, he worries that new senators may try to mimic it too frequently, which could slow the Senate’s business.

“As a long-time observer of the Senate, I am concerned that some members, especially some of the freshman Republicans, are going to take the exact wrong example out of this,” he told The Hill.

If senators use the talking filibuster too much, it will likely get less public attention. It could also lead other senators to seek to change Senate rules to limit their use.

Democrats are already blaming Republicans for using the non-talking filibuster too much. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders keeping door open on 2020 Parliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? MORE (I-Vt.), who pulled off the last lengthy filibuster in 2010, seemed to welcome Paul's attempt at it, but mostly because Paul was talking.

“I think this highlights what a filibuster is about and that's somebody getting down and willing to sacrifice for his or her view,” Sanders said. “The contrast of that is what we've seen time and time again is somebody putting a hold on legislation and demanding 60 votes.”

The sense of comity that senators try to preserve is one reason why some predicted the talking filibuster will not become a trend.

“I don't think so,” Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissFormer GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race MORE (R-Ga.) said when asked if it would happen more. “I think last night was a pretty unusual situation and I wouldn't expect to be.”

Sen. Mike JohannsMike JohannsLobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops MORE (R-Neb.) said it might be used a little more, but said: “I can't imagine that you're going to see this become a weekly event, that's for sure.”

As a technical matter, they may be right. Despite the enduring myth, talking filibusters no longer have the power to forever hold back legislation to which the minority objects. If they had that power, legislation such as Dodd-Frank or the healthcare law could have easily been stalled forever by Senate Republicans.

Under the 1917 Senate rule allowing for cloture motions, or motions to end debate, 16 senators can present a cloture motion at any time.

So, if the votes are there, and the issue is important enough, the talking filibuster doesn't really stop anything. If Democrats had filed their motion Wednesday, Paul could have spoken for no more than 30 hours.

Thursday morning, Manley's former boss gave Paul credit for his stamina and for winning publicity after a night in which there was rampant Twitter speculation as to whether Paul was wearing a catheter (Paul said later he was not).

“I have been involved in a few filibusters, as Rand Paul did [Wednesday],” Reid said. “And what I have learned from my experiences with talking filibusters is this: to succeed, you need strong convictions but also a strong bladder. It's obvious Senator Paul has both.”