There isn’t much on which Harry Reid and Rand Paul can agree, but after tea party Republican Paul spent 12 hours on the Senate floor filibustering President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, the chamber’s top Democrat appreciates Paul’s willingness to step up to actually engage in a talking filibuster.
Too often, Republican senators filibuster only by threat of cloture vote, or the procedural need to reach 60 votes just to put a bill to a final vote, says Reid, Senate majority leader.
On the same day that Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator, chattered away hour after hour to filibuster Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, Reid complained other Republicans “hid behind a cloture vote – a filibuster by another term – to prevent a simple up or down vote” on another of the president’s nominations, that of Caitlin Halligan, to be a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
“They took the easy way out,” Reid complains. “On the other hand, one Republican Senator did return to regular order. And, as is his right, he spoke for as long as he was able. That is a filibuster,” he adds, referring to Paul.
“After 12 hours standing and talking, this is how Senator Paul ended his filibuster: ‘I would go for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I’ve discovered there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to take care of one of those in a few minutes here.’ One thing I learned from my own experience with talking filibusters: to succeed, you need strong convictions but also a strong bladder. Senator Paul has both,” Reid says.
“We should all reflect on what happened yesterday as we proceed with other nominations, including a number of judicial nominations. This can be a Senate were ideas are debated in full public view – and obstruction happens in full public view as well. Or it can be a Senate where a small minority obstructs from behind closed doors, without ever coming to the Senate floor,” he adds.