On Friday, before the Senate took its holiday break, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried his best to push through an extension of the current Patriot Act provisions rather than fold to the law’s outspoken critics. McConnell hoped the looming holiday break would keep dreary-eyed senators at bay and ready to go home.
But when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky took to the floor around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, to speak out against and prevent any further bulk collection of phone records, McConnell’s plan was thwarted. An extension to the Patriot Act was not an option, and Sen. Paul made that very clear. After a four-hour filibuster, Sen. Paul’s second that week, the bill to extend the Patriot Act was voted down.
The act, which has come under intense scrutiny by both the American public and certain lawmakers across the country, is scheduled to expire on June 1, and Sen. McConnell has announced that lawmakers will return to Washington on Sunday, May 31 to further consider its extension . While Sen. Paul is dead set to stand up for American privacy, many lawmakers, including several members of his own party, see Paul’s actions as disingenuous, dangerous to American security and, most of all, a campaign gimmick.
But Sen. Paul disagrees. In fact, he says his demands are not unreasonable. On Tuesday morning, May 26, Sen. Paul told “CBS This Morning,” “I’m just asking for two amendments and a simple majority vote.”
“I think sometimes my party gets all caught up in the Second Amendment, which is fine, but we don’t protect the Fourth Amendment enough,” said Paul, according to Politico. “But actually I think neither party ends up protecting the Fourth Amendment enough, which is the right to privacy.”
While many accuse Sen. Paul of creating a mess and stalling government progress, many are also pinning the blame on the majority leader, Sen. McConnell. Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, told the New York Times, “This mess is an entirely predictable consequence of Senator McConnell’s bad habit of governing by manufactured crisis.
“Senator McConnell set several bills on a collision course without any real plan to resolve the inevitable pileup.”
Sen. Rand Paul was quick to act on that manufactured crisis, making matters worse for the Republican majority leader. Sen. Paul also had some words for critics claiming his filibusters were just campaign stunts, calling the accusation an “unfair characterization,” according to The Guardian. Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie entered into the fray, calling Paul’s stunt the result of “misguided ideologies.” But Paul was unfazed, saying Gov. Christie’s attack “just wasn’t very nice” and arguing that he’s simply defending the Constitution.
When lawmakers return to Washington on May 31, they will have just one day to decide on the fate of the Patriot Act.