Reid: Now that's a real filibuster


Now that's how you run a filibuster!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke admiringly today of the old-fashioned, almost 13-hour talking filibuster Sen. Rand Paul pulled off on Wednesday.

"As is his right, he spoke for as long as he was able," Reid said of the Kentucky Republican. "And that is a filibuster."

"One thing I learned from my own experience with talking filibusters: to succeed, you need strong convictions but also a strong bladder," Reid said. "It's obvious Senator Paul has both."

Reid contrasted the Paul talkathon with Republicans "taking the easy way out" to block bills and nominees, effectively silent filibusters that still require a 60-vote cloture.

"This can be a Senate where ideas are debated in full public view -- and obstruction happens in full public view as well," Reid said. "Or it can be a Senate where a small minority obstructs from behind closed doors, without ever coming to the Senate floor."

The Nevada Democrat has taken part in two talking filibusters during his Senate career.

In November 1987, Reid and Sen. Brock Adams, D-Wash., traded off speaking for nine hours in a bid to hold up an energy bill they believed targeted Nevada for a nuclear waste site. Reid held court for six of the hours.

On Nov. 10, 2003, Reid ground the Senate to a halt for more than 8 1/2 hours by himself to protest how Republicans were managing the chamber.

On a long list of things Reid talked about that day: global warming, the minimum wage, Wal-Mart, job training, how much he liked McFlurries at McDonald's. He read from his book about his hometown of Searchlight, starting on page one.

"The Senate is a body where one person can throw a monkey wrench into it, and a monkey wrench is being thrown today by the senator from Nevada," Reid said that day.

Rand Paul blew by both of those filibusters with hours to spare. He stood in the Senate for 12 hours and 52 minutes, speaking most of the time against the dangers of the Obama administration's potential use of drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.

Paul traded off on occasion with a handful of Republican allies and one Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Even as the Kentucky Republican captured the attention of the Capitol and C-SPAN viewers, he still fell more than 11 hours short of the record set by Sen. Strong Thurmond, who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Finally, shortly before 12:40 a.m. Thursday, Paul wound down.

"I would go for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond's record," he said, "but I've discovered there are some limits to filibustering and I'm going to have to take care of one of those in a few minutes here."