Posted Thursday, May 26, 2011, at 10:49 AM
As the Senate voted to start debate on the PATRIOT Act, Sen. Rand Paul voted no. He then walked off the floor and toward the elevators, stopping to tell reporters what was happening.
"We had an agreement," he said, "and we still have an agreement, with the Democrats, to allow two amendment votes: On guns and on suspicious activity reports. I'm now being blocked by the Republicans and the Republicans tell me that they're going to refuse to let me have any votes."
This started a scramble to figure out who was blocking Paul , and why. Homeland Security Committee ranking member Susan Collins, for example, didn't know what Paul was talking about.
"Really?" she said, informed that Democrats were no longer Paul's problem and Republicans were. "Well, that's news to me!"
The deal to pass PATRIOT reauthorization is still being hammered out. The deal, according to a GOP aide, will probably include amendments from both sides. That could be Paul's two amendments plus an amendment sponsored by Pat Leahy and co-sponsored by Paul. Leahy said that he probably wouldn't vote for reauthorization if his amendment didn't make it, and he'd been saying this to negotiators who just want to package the deal and move on.
"Well, that could hold everything up," said Leahy, paraphrasing what he'd been told, "and we need to get this on the plane so the president can sign it. I said, sorry about that. 'Well, you may have be here until 7 a.m.' Well, 37 years in the Senate, I've done that a few times."