Sen. Rand Paul Ends 'Filibuster' Over NSA Surveillance Program

May 21, 2015
Originally published on May 21, 2015 6:12 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


On the Senate floor yesterday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul started talking. He spoke for 10 hours about his opposition to NSA surveillance of Americans' phone records.


SENATOR RAND PAUL: The American people say enough's enough. We want our privacy protected. We want the government to take less of our records. Congress recognizes that, the House of Representatives. Then, come over to the Senate, and the Senate says, oh, my goodness, we want to collect more of your records. We don't think we're getting enough into your privacy.


It was a discussion of policy with an undercurrent of politics. Even as Senator Paul spoke, the Republican's presidential campaign was asking for donations.

MONTAGNE: The legislation he opposes would extend government's surveillance powers passed in response to the 9/11 attacks. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: It was like deja vu all over again. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, the man who famously droned on about drones on the Senate floor for 13 hours back in 2013, took to the floor yesterday to announce he was going to talk for a really long time again, this time, about his objections to the Patriot Act.


PAUL: There comes a time - there comes a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer.

CHANG: Paul says the bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act violates constitutional guarantees against unlawful searches and seizures.


PAUL: We're talking about an enormous amount of information. We're talking about all of your phone records all of the time.

CHANG: Under a bill the House just passed, the government would no longer store these records. Instead, it would need a court order to get that data from phone companies for terrorism investigations. Paul says this still doesn't go far enough to roll back the government's reach.


PAUL: Some people are so fearful, they're like, how could we get terrorists? We'll be overrun with terrorists, and ISIS will be in every drug store and in every house in America if we don't get rid of the Constitution, if we don't let the Fourth Amendment lapse, if we don't just let everybody pass out warrants.

CHANG: By early evening, the presidential candidate's Twitter feed was ablaze with pictures of him speaking on the floor, many posted by fans who had been taking selfies next to televisions tuned into C-SPAN. Paul says all he wants is a full, robust debate on what to do about the surveillance program. But Congress has set to recess at the end of the week, and if it can't agree on a way to reform the program or at least extend it temporarily, it will lapse, which would be just fine with Paul. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.