“I would be here if it were a Republican president doing this,” Paul added. “Really, the great irony of this is that President Obama’s opinion on this is an extension of George Bush’s opinion.”
About 3 p.m., several other junior Republicans joined Paul from their seats in the far right corner of the chamber. By tradition, the most junior senators of either party occupy the far corners of the room, with the more tenured members sitting closer to the middle.
Under the rules, the senator from Kentucky was allowed to yield to another senator “for a question,” but no rules mandate the form or length of the question. So Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Mike Lee (Utah) delivered long speeches in opposition to the drone program, sometimes stopping to ask Paul a question, other times going on for extended periods.
During his remarks, Cruz compared Paul to another famous — if fictional — senator.
“You’re standing here like a modern-day ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’ ” he said. “You must surely be making Jimmy Stewart smile.”
Paul, Cruz and Lee spoke out against the CIA nominee from contiguous desks in the deep right corner of the room. Later, they were joined briefly by Republican Sens. John Barasso (Wyo.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), John Cornyn (Tex.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), John Thune (S.D.), and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), all of whom voiced support.
Senate Democrats said they received no warning of Paul’s intent to filibuster for most of Wednesday. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had hoped to move Brennan’s nomination to a final vote Wednesday, but aides said it would be moved to Thursday.
Brennan’s nomination easily cleared the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, suggesting that he would have the 60 votes required to end Paul’s filibuster and bring the nomination to a vote. He has gained the support of some Republican senators, even as others want to hold up his nomination in hopes of getting more answers from the White House about the deaths of four Americans in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.
Throughout the day, Paul conceded that Brennan would ultimately get the job.
“I don’t know how long I’ll be able to do this, so I can’t ultimately stop the nomination,” he said late in the afternoon. “But what I can do is try to draw attention to this and try to get an answer.”
Paul Kane contributed to this report.
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