WASHINGTON -- A Republican senator and tea party favorite from Kentucky used an old-style filibuster lasting nearly 13 hours to take control of the chamber and block Senate confirmation of John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director.
Sen. Rand Paul ended his filibuster Thursday shortly after midnight, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also a Kentucky Republican, said he would continue to oppose Brennan's confirmation and resist ending the debate on President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the spy agency.
The Obama administration has said it has not conducted such operations inside U.S. borders, nor does it intend to.
Paul, a critic of Obama's drone policy, started just before noon Wednesday by demanding the president or Attorney General Eric Holder issue a statement assuring that the aircraft would not be used in the United States to kill terrorism suspects who are U.S. citizens. But by the time he left the Senate floor, Paul said he'd received no response.
About a dozen of Paul's colleagues who share his conservative views came to the floor to take turns speaking for him and trading questions. Senate rules say a senator has to remain on the floor to continue to hold it, even though he can yield to another senator for a question.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, read Twitter messages from people eager to "Stand With Rand." The Twitterverse, said Cruz, was "blowing up." And as the night went on, Cruz spoke for longer periods as Paul leaned against a desk across the floor. Cruz read passages from Shakespeare's "Henry V" and lines from the 1970 movie "Patton," starring George C. Scott.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made references to rappers Jay-Z and Wiz Khalifa.
Not all Republicans were as enthusiastic about Paul's performance. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the prospect of drones being used to kill people in the United States was "ridiculous" and he called the debate "paranoia between libertarians and the hard left that is unjustified."
Along with Cruz, Rubio and McConnell, other Republicans who joined Paul on the floor included Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Tim Scott of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also made an appearance.
The record for the longest individual speech on the Senate floor belongs to former Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Paul ended his lengthy speech with a joke. He said that he was tempted to go another 12 hours and try to break Thurmond's record, but he needed to use the bathroom.