Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., walks to a waiting vehicle as he leaves the Capitol after his filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director on Capitol Hill in Washington, early Thursday, March 7, 2013. Senate Democrats pushed Wednesday for speedy confirmation of John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director but ran into a snag after Paul began a lengthy speech over the legality of potential drone strikes on U.S. soil. But Paul stalled the chamber to start what he called a filibuster of Brennan's nomination. Credit: AP
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday staged an incredible nearly 13 hour filibuster to block President Barack Obama's CIA nominee John Brennan, but mostly to bring attention to potential drone strikes against Americans in the U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a letter to Paul, said in an emergency the federal government could execute a drone strike on U.S. soil. The revelation resulted in Wednesday's filibuster, the senator's way of ringing the alarm bell. Paul made it clear repeatedly throughout the filibuster that he would end it once the White House admitted that drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil are "unconstitutional."
The White House had nothing to say on Wednesday.
Several GOP senators joined Paul in his crusade, however, many others didn't and were not in attendance. Further, very few Democrats participated.
The Republican senators who participated in the filibuster with Paul include, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).
It should be noted that Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was in attendance and supported Paul's filibuster by bringing the senator a thermos and an apple, a likely reference to "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." However, Kirk, who recently returned to the Senate after suffering a stroke, did not speak during the filibuster.
There are a total of 47 Republican members of the U.S. Senate, meaning 32 other GOP senators sat out the filibuster protesting the federal government's controversial drone program. To find out who those senators are, comb through the full list here.
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham spent Thursday morning shaming Paul and his filibuster. McCain said it was not "helpful to the American people" while Graham used a chart to try to embarrass Paul.
Just one Democrat joined in the filibuster, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke but only asked questions of Paul and didn't officially speak as part of the filibuster.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama invited rank-and-file Republican senators to dinner Wednesday. His efforts are "aimed at jumpstarting budget talks and rallying support for his proposals on immigration and gun control," according to the Associated Press.
The GOP lawmakers at Wednesday's dinner were Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Tom Coburn, Kelly Ayotte, Pat Toomey, Bob Corker, Ron Johnson, Saxby Chambliss, John Hoeven, Dan Coats, Richard Burr and Mike Johanns. Toomey, Johnson and Chambliss headed to the Senate floor later that night.
Millions of Americans and others around the world participated via Twitter Wednesday night, making #StandWithRand the number one trending topic worldwide on the social network.
This story has been updated.