We're at seven hours and counting already, with the Kentucky Senator betraying no signs of slowing down. His has utterly dominated Twitter all afternoon. An irritated, hapless Harry Reid stopped by to try to put an end to the soliloquy over an hour ago, but Paul objected, so on it goes. In case you were curious, the longest filibuster in history was conducted by Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes straight against a civil rights bill, which eventually passed the Senate with unanimous Republican support (Democrats were split). As Kevin explained earlier, today's marathon speech is aimed forcing the administration to formally clarify its positions and rules pertaining to the use of domestic drones against US citizens. Until that happens, Paul says, he'll keep talking until he's physically unable to continue. In the process, he's blocking the president's nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan.
So far, nine Senators have participated the old-fashioned, filibuster, Reid not included: Republicans Chambliss, Cornyn, Cruz, Lee, Moran, Paul, Rubio and Toomey, and Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon -- who is also known for co-authoring Paul Ryan's bipartisan Medicare reform plan, which most Democrats loathe and lie about routinely. Sen. Paul has refused to yield the floor to anyone, though he has paused for "questions" -- which have included lengthy expositions on the topic, ending with a question, for parliamentary purposes. Paul can hold forth for as long as his body allows. He may not sit, nor leave the chamber. Here's Paul getting things rolling late this morning:
Since then, he's quoted the Constitution, discussed numerous legal precedents, referenced Alice in Wonderland again, cited political writes from both ends of the spectrum, emphasized (convincingly, in my view) that he'd be doing this under a Republican administration as well, deconstructed Democrats' hypocrisy on Bush and war powers, and offered historical lectures about our nation's founding and its roots as a Constitutional republic, not a pure democracy. Watch it live HERE. You might learn something. Republicans are often ineffective at messaging and struggle with timing. Not today. I don't always agree with Rand Paul, but he's proving himself to be a genuinely principled, politically savvy, deeply informed, and undeniably sharp advocate for the people of Kentucky.
UPDATE - Dick Durbin, speaking on behalf of Senate Democrats, just objected to the consideration of this resolution:
Sen. Rand Paul just offered to end his filibuster and allow a vote on CIA nominee John Brennan if he could get a vote tomorrow on a non-binding resolution regarding drone killing of US citizens on US soil. But Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin objected to allowing a vote on the resolution. So Paul resumed speaking. Paul's resolution said it was the sense of the Senate that "the use of drones to execute or target American citizens on American soil who pose no imminent threat clearly violates Constitutional rights" of due process.
Especially with the "imminent threat" language in there, what does Durbin object to, exactly? No, seriously.
UPDATE II - It's just after 10:45pm ET. Sen. Paul has been going for 11 hours. Awhile back, Republican Sen. John Barasso added his voice to this effort.
UPDATE III - We're coming up on 13 hours. By my count, here are the 14 GOP Senators who have participated today: Paul, Barasso, Chambliss, Cornyn, Cruz, Flake, Johnson, Lee, McConnell, Moran, Rubio, Scott, Thune, and Toomey. Sen. Mark Kirkm who is still recovering from a severe stroke, also aided the effort. The only Democrat who actively joined the filibuster was Ron Wyden. Dick Durbin was there as the appointed Democrat, but he didn't quite join in. He did, however, ask a series of questions that had already been answered, and raise a few examples that had tenuous relevance to the discussion at hand.
UPDATE IV - Just a few minutes shy of the 13-hour mark, Sen. Paul yields the floor, all but admitting that he had to use the restroom. He receives a standing ovation. 12 hours, 52 minutes. Wow.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography