Paul blocks Senate from speeding up NSA vote
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Ky.) blocked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote GOP divided over expected Cheney ouster Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday from moving up a procedural vote on the USA Freedom Act.

McConnell tried to move up the House-backed bill from a Tuesday vote to Monday evening. Because the Republican leader was trying to circumvent Senate rules, he needed consent from every senator.


But, Paul, who is running for president, objected, saying that he "would be happy" to allow the vote sooner, but only if he gets votes on his amendments.

"I would be happy to agree to dispensing with the time and having a vote at the soonest possibility if we were allowed to accommodate amendments for those of us who object to the bill," he told McConnell on the Senate floor. "But at this point I object."

The two Kentucky Republicans have been in a battle of wills over expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. McConnell originally wanted to get an extension of the legislation as is, but was repeatedly blocked.

Paul opposes both a clean extension and the USA Freedom Act. He doubled down Sunday night on his pledge to use procedural tactics to drag out consideration of the reform bill.

But he also declined to criticize McConnell's handeling of the NSA fight when speaking with reporters, and the two were seen laughing together on the Senate floor shortly before Paul's objection on Monday.

McConnell, who dropped his opposition to the USA Freedom Act on Sunday, helping it get the 60 votes needed to move ahead, tried to pressure his colleagues into allowing for an earlier vote.

"It's time to get the job done," he said. "Everyone has had ample opportunity to say their piece at this point. Now is the time for action."

Because of Paul's objection, the Senate will take a procedural vote on the USA Freedom Act at 11 a.m. Tuesday. They're also expected to vote on a handful of amendments from McConnell.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers FDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected the notion that he and McConnell haven't tried to work with Paul on amendments.

"There's been every attempt to try to accommodate amendments," he said.  "We're going to do everything we can to wrap this up by 3 tomorrow."

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA criticizes China after rocket debris lands in Indian Ocean Democrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor Crist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job MORE (D-Fla.) also criticized Republicans on Monday, suggesting they didn't have a plan to make sure they could pass legislation on the Patriot Act provisions before they expired at midnight Sunday.

"This senator is saying we should have gone through the laborious procedures," he said. "Not assuming that we were going to have the votes last night, not assuming they was going to be comity and unanimous consent."