5 votes

What is a filibuster? What is going on? Why are they trying to take up time?

I am confused what is happening tonight, I just got home from work/school and I see Ted Cruz reading Tweets at 10:20 at night??!?!? Someone please explain to me what is going on!

Thanks DP :)

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Yup they are delaying

The vote on the nomination for John Brennan for CIA Director. Rand Paul started a filibuster early this morning at 11:45 AM ET. It's not that he wants to delay the vote on the nomination indefinitely. The vote will happen when Rand Paul refuses to sit down or give up or something like that.

Basically, the other day Rand Paul asked John Brennan, "Is America allowed to kill U.S. citizens on American soil?" John Brennan said "Well, the CIA is not allowed to do that on American soil, but you'll have to ask the Department of Justice for anything outside the CIA."

And when Obama was asked, Obama was trying to dodge the question about killing U.S. citizens on American soil. And Attorney General Holder was beating around the bush on the issue too, saying some "extraordinary" circumstances could force the military to kill an American citizen.

So Rand Paul is using his time to explain due process and tell everybody that yeah it's cool if we kill somebody on American soil if they have a grenade launcher aimed at the White House. But Obama and Holder have not said "we will never use a drone strike to kill a non-combatant." Basically, Rand Paul wants them to say, in a statement, "If somebody is suspected of doing something, and they are in a non-combatant state (not holding a grenade launcher or a gun or whatever), they must be given due process and taken to the courts." Rand is using his filibuster time in order to bring it to America's attention that the Constitution and due process must be followed, and that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama need to make a statement supporting the Constitution. Otherwise, it needs to be brought to America's attention that the current Administration may in fact have the right to use lethal force on non-combatant Americans.

Yeah his whole filibuster time has basically been 12+ straight hours of the history of due process and how the Constitution was made. Really fun stuff, turned me from a Rand hater to a Rand lover

Yes

Rand Paul, and other senators there helping support his cause, are trying to pressure the Executive Branch (President Obama) to give a clear answer on their view of whether they have power to conduct targeted drone strikes on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without due process as guaranteed by the Constitution. In other words, can they kill Americans without due process, but instead under their own opinion of their own power.

No branch of government - Congress, Supreme Court, Executive - has absolute authority over the other. So neither Senator Rand Paul or Congress can force the president to answer. All he/they can try and do is pressure him to answer by getting public opinion on the issue on their side. This unusual tactic, the filibuster, gets news attention and therefore the attention of the American public the longer it goes on.

they are delaying the vote

they are delaying the vote (of John Brenner to be CIA Director) by refusing to stop talking. Rand has the floor and he hasn't yielded since 11:30 this morning.

The US senate does not have a rules committee to set debate time and limits and must have a "cloture vote" of 60 senators, I believe, in order to bring a vote to the floor.