For over 10 hours on May 20th and 21st, Rand Paul was on his feet filibustering to delay the renewal of the Patriot Act (the Freedom Act). With the Memorial Day weekend (i.e., Senate recess) approaching, Rand had leverage to get an up-or-down vote on his amendments (one amendment prohibits the government from forcing tech companies to build “backdoors” in their products that the NSA could access) to the renewal bill. More importantly though, he had bipartisan support.
Ron Wyden is a Democrat from Oregon who has 100% ratings from Pro-Abortion groups, publicly supports gay marriage, and voted for the assault weapons ban. Nevertheless, he found common ground with Rand Paul in his objection to Mitch McConnell’s effort to renew the mass collection of Americans’ phone records.
After an all-night session, Rand Paul [R-KY] and Ron Wyden [D-OR] tag-teamed majority leader Mitch McConnell [R-KY] and beat him to the mat — he has abandoned the current legislative effort to extend section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes mass surveillance and is set to expire on June 1.
Unfortunately, such bipartisan successes are rare in the political atmosphere of the past decade.
Rand Paul routinely goes beyond quietly voting based on his principles (this wasn’t his first filibuster), but actually strongly advocates for those principles. While few would call him liberal, on occasion those principles have led him to work across the aisle. Opposing the renewal of the Patriot Act is but one example. Rand Paul has worked with the Koch Brothers and Van Jones – President Obama’s Green Jobs Czar who Glenn Beck called an avowed Communist – on Criminal Justice Reform. He’s worked with NJ Democrat Cory Booker and NY Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand on a bill that would lift the federal prohibition of medical marijuana. With the nomination of Loretta Lynch, who supports civil forfeiture, to the Attorney General’s office he worked with Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison (the first Muslim elected to Congress) on a Fifth Amendment Integrity Act to limit the government’s power to seize private property from criminal suspects.
His principles are clear: limited government (as illustrated by his multiple complete budgets put forth which slash superfluous government departments and wasteful foreign aid), limited foreign engagement (as evidenced by his opposition to getting involved in Iraq), personal liberty (shown in this most recent effort to stop the mass collection of Americans’ phone records), and minority rights (most notably highlighted by his strong efforts towards criminal justice reform). How many politicians have clear principles that aren’t simply a carbon copy of their party’s dogma? Further, how many are not just willing, but eager to work across party lines to advocate for them?
Love him or hate him, you have to admit two things about Senator Rand Paul. He is principled and bipartisan.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 23, 2015