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Paul has the same leverage point next week, when the Senate is expected to debate an expanded version of a bill to fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2013 that was passed by the House earlier Wednesday. Without action, funding for the federal government would lapse March 27.
In addition, Paul’s floor crusade drew accolades from at least three Senate Republican leaders: Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas, all of whom made appearances during Paul’s filibuster.
In addition, the NRSC made a fundraising pitch in support of the effort, highlighting the Twitter hashtag #standwithrand. During the potentially historic filibuster, some conservative activists on Twitter questioned McConnell’s whereabouts the filibuster. McConnell, however, appeared on the floor after 11 p.m. to announce his support for Paul’s efforts.
“What we’re talking about is a resolution that says, what we have been trying to get the president to say, is you can’t kill noncombatants. You can’t kill people in a cafe in Seattle,” Paul said on the floor. “That’s what we’re asking. It is blatantly unconstitutional to kill noncombatants. I can’t understand why we couldn’t get a resolution.”
Before objecting to moving forward on the resolution, Durbin pledged to hold a hearing on constitutional issues related to the drone program. Durbin chairs the subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee responsible for tackling constitutional questions.
“We are scheduling a hearing on the issue of drones because I believe the issue raises important questions, legal and constitutional questions, and I invite my colleague to join us in that hearing if he would like to testify,” Durbin said. “I think this is something we should look at and look closely. That’s why this hearing is being scheduled. I believe at this moment it is premature to schedule a vote on this issue until we thoroughly look at the constitutional aspects.”
Paul did not believe a hearing would be sufficient, noting that lawmakers often hold hearings as a way of forestalling actions on contentious policy questions. While he may never get the level of detail he seeks from Brennan, the Justice Department or the White House, he should have the bargaining power to get his vote.