Sen. Rand Paul concluded his attempted filibuster of the Patriot Act extension just before midnight Wednesday, saying he hoped he’d raised important questions about the government’s claims of broad powers to snoop on Americans.
Mr. Paul, who spoke for more than 10 hours, finally relinquished the chamber floor at 11:49 p.m.
“My voice is rapidly leaving. My bedtime has long since passed,” he said just before ending the speech he’d begun at 1:18 p.m.
It was his second such filibuster since he took office in 2011, following a nearly 13-hour affair two years ago to demand the Obama administration say whether it believed it could use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.
Mr. Paul joked Wednesday that he would try to only do a filibuster “every couple of years or so,” and thanked the Senate floor staffers, who are required to stay there while the chamber is in session, for putting up with him.
“I don’t think you had much choice, but thank you for staying and not throwing things,” he said.
He said he wanted to see the Senate spend at least a few days working on amendments and trying to reach a compromise on Patriot Act powers. Key provisions are set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress acts.
Mr. Paul’s filibuster pitted him against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who instead of a robust debate has tried to run out the clock, leaving senators little choice but to either allow key security provisions to expire or to accept a short-term extension of all Patriot Act powers.
Mr. Paul argues those powers — particularly the government’s ability to demand businesses turn over records on Americans — go too far, and the government should have to prove reasonable suspicion and obtain a warrant before being able to compel documents.