Rand Paul Walks Back Filibuster Threat, Blames Media. (I'm Sorry, Everybody.)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 4 2013 2:45 PM

Rand Paul Walks Back Filibuster Threat, Blames Media. (I'm Sorry, Everybody.)

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Maybe Rand won't stand.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Reporters who joined a conference call with Rand Paul yesterday asked him, twice, whether he'd filibuster a resolution to authorize force in Syria. He only really answered the second time, saying, "I can't imagine that we won't require 60 votes off this." That was a little controversial—Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski has pointed out that a war resolution is by definition pending business, and skips the usual filibuster sand traps. But Paul said he was looking into the possibly, and added that "whether there's an actual standing filibuster, I need to check my shoes and hold my water."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Around 18 hours later, the New York Times got a Paul aide to "confirm" what he'd basically said already.

For the Senate to move quickly, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, would need unanimous consent at least to bring the authorization of force to the Senate floor.
That is not likely to happen. Moira Bagley, a spokeswoman for Mr. Paul, said he would demand a 60-vote threshold to move forward.
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Pretty clear, no? But then came this exchange in the Foreign Relations committee mark-up.

Pressed about the reports by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting, Paul said: "That would be a misinterpretation from the media."

It really isn't! Paul has raised the possibility of demanding a supermajority for a war resolution, and of filibustering it—at least with a talking filibuster—for as long as he can hold his bladder.

Why did Paul back off for a little while? At the time, he was trying to get the committee to approve his resolution:

It is the sense of the Senate that the President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

That failed, 14-5. But Paul's obviously taking every available tack he can to build opposition.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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