By Julian Hattem - 05/31/15 05:42 PM EDT
Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election How low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? MORE burst back into Washington on Sunday evening making clear that he is not relenting in his battle to hobble the Patriot Act.
“Are we going to so blithely give up our freedom? Are we going to so blindly go along and take it?” the Kentucky Republican and presidential candidate said from the Senate floor, raising his voice to reach the approximately two dozen supporters wearing “Stand with Rand” t-shirts in the chamber gallery.
“I’m not going to take it anymore,” he added. “I don’t think the American people are going to take it anymore.”
The Senate is holding a rare Sunday session on National Security Agency legislation in large part because of Paul, who more than a week ago objected to a short-term extension of the Patriot Act.
Paul also appears intent on unilaterally forcing the three provisions of the Patriot Act to expire at midnight, by preventing the Senate from voting on reform legislation until later in the week.
Backers of legislation to renew the Patriot Act provisions but end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records — known as the USA Freedom Act — appeared confident heading into Sunday that they had the 60 votes necessary to proceed.
But Paul can still the stop the bill dead in its tracks — at least temporarily.
The Senate needs unanimous consent of the chamber to begin voting on a second procedural step on Sunday evening, without waiting until 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Paul’s opposition is likely to mean they don’t get it, forcing the Senate over the midnight deadline and killing the three legal measures.
Paul appears primed to chip away at the powers of the National Security Agency (NSA), which he has described as illegal and unconstitutional.
“This is a debate over the Bill of Rights,” he said. “This is a debate over the Fourth Amendment. This is a debate over your right to be left alone.”