Kentucky Sen. and Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul took to the Senate floor on Wednesday and delivered the “filibuster” he had been promising his supporters for the past couple weeks. And his team employed a broad use of social media to help promote his efforts.
Paul announced he was “filibustering” (whether he was actually filibustering, however, is up for debate — more on that later) over the Senate debating whether to reauthorize the Patriot Act. He would go on to speak for hours, in a scene reminiscent of his marathon 2013 filibuster over drones.
He took stage on the Senate floor at 1:18 p.m. ET Wednesday. About 18 minutes later, a tweet fired off from his official campaign noted his purpose:
His campaign account sent out more than 20 tweets in the next four hours, pushing the Patriot Act to trend on Twitter. The account linked out to a picture of him leading the homepage of The Drudge Report:
It sent out GIFs with his quotes, urging his followers to text a number to find out more about his talk-a-thon:
And it retweeted other members of Congress who announced they were heading to the Senate floor to support him:
Promoted tweets announcing his stand also showed up in some feeds:
And Paul made a video about his stand, posting it on YouTube. He said he wouldn’t “stand for the Senate to shove us aside”:
Congress right now is in the midst of debating whether to renew the NSA’s bulk collection program—the one exposed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden in 2013 — which expires on June 1.
The bill with perhaps the best chance of passing is the USA Freedom Act, which passed a House of Representatives committee last week and is likely to come to the floor for a full vote next week. It ends the controversial NSA program in question but replaces it with a new collection system in which the NSA would have to ask private companies for specific records.
But some NSA critics, including Paul, have said that legislation doesn’t go far enough to reign in the agency. He has said he’d vote “no” on the USA Freedom Act.
Though his office billed it as a “filibuster,” Paul wasn’t doing so in the traditional sense. He didn’t hold up any official Senate business on the legislation, which isn’t even being considered at the moment. And he has a finite period of time during which he’ll be able to speak. He will have to relinquish the floor no later than 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Paul’s speech, or talk-a-thon, or whatever you want to call it, will likely complicate the Senate schedule before a scheduled Memorial Day recess. On Thursday, the chamber is expected to debate trade-related legislation.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.