The Washington Times - March 7, 2013, 08:37AM

Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster Wednesday to bring attention to drone strikes turned into a committee affair, with a dozen other GOP senators coming to the chamber floor to help carry the speaking load by asking long-winded questions, giving Mr. Paul a chance to rest his voice and stretch his legs as the others spoke.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah did the most to help, with Mr. Cruz at one point holding the floor for a single question that lasted 50 minutes.

SEE RELATED: Rand Paul raises national profile by using filibuster to take stand on drone controversy

Late in the evening Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus even issued an all-hands alert for help: “Attention all Republican US Senators -> Please go to the floor and help out.”

In addition to Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee, others who showed up and spoke included Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, John Cornyn of Texas, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona, John Thune of South Dakota and Mitch McConnell, the GOP floor leader, who made a late-night appearance to congratulate his fellow Kentuckian.

Most of those senators were newcomers, elected in 2010 or 2012.

While the filibuster, televised live on TV, captured the attention of conservatives and libertarians, for much of official Washington the bigger event was on the other side of town, where President Obama held an old-style closed-door dinner with Republican lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

At least three senators even did double-duty, attending the dinner and helping out Mr. Paul: Mr. Toomey, who was one of those, went from the Senate over to the dinner and back to the Senate floor to help Mr. Paul out again.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, also came to the floor to help out at one point. Mr. Wyden and Mr. Paul are ideological allies on the issue of seeking more information on drone strikes.

SEE RELATED: After almost 13 hours, Rand Paul ends Brennan filibuster