In case you haven’t already heard, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster speech Wednesday was long-winded.
The senate historian’s office told VOXXI it’s still checking the list and checking it twice before placing the Kentucky Republican number nine on the list of longest speeches ever recorded on the Senate floor.
“I discovered that there are some limits to filibustering,” Paul said Wednesday night.
The National archives clocked Paul’s speech at 12 hours and 52 minutes. Using one of the oldest traditions in the U.S. Senate, Paul’s speech focused on blocking President Obama’s nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the CIA.
The libertarian Senator began his speech criticizing the use of drones, which Brennan was in charge of overseeing.
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said as he began. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Senate historian Donald Ritchie told VOXXI filibuster speeches often take a long time in hopes of delaying the nomination procedure, but “more often times than not,” he says, “it’s to call attention to the issue.”
To achieve the feat of number nine on the list of long speeches, Paul enlisted the help of other junior senators who were sympathetic to his objections against Brennan’s nomination. One of his filibuster companions was Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
“Sen. Paul said himself that he didn’t think his filibuster would block the nomination, I think he was trying to make a point that this was an important issue,” Ritchie said.
The top 10 longest Senate speeches*
1. 24 hours, 18 minutes: Strom Thurmond (ID/D/R-SC), August 28-29, 1957—on the Civil Rights Act of 1957
2. 23 hours, 30 minutes: Alphonse D’Amato (R-NY), October 16-17, 1986—on military funding
3. 22 hours, 26 minutes: Wayne Morse (R/I/D-OR), April 24-25, 1953—on the Tidelands oil bill
4. 18 hours, 23 minutes: Robt La Follette, Sr. (R-WI), May 29-30, 1908—on the Aldrich-Vreeland currency bill
5. 16 hours, 12 minutes: William Proxmire (D-WI), September 28-29, 1981—on the Public debt ceiling limitation
6. 15 hours, 30 minutes: Huey P. Long (D-LA), June 12-13, 1935—on the National Industrial Recovery Act
7. 15 hours, 14 minutes: Alphonse D’Amato (R-NY), October 5-6, 1992—on a Tax bill
8. 14 hours, 13 minutes: Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), June 9-10, 1964—on the Civil Rights Act of 1964
9. 12 hours, 52 minutes: Rand Paul (R-KY), March 6, 2013—on John Brennan’s Nomination
10. 8 hours, 37 minutes: Bernard Sanders (I-VT), December 10, 2010—on Tax legislation
*According to the Senate Historical Office: “In the nineteenth century, senators were noted for delivering long speeches, sometimes lasting several days, but because it is not possible to determine the exact length from the printed record, this table is confined to the twentieth century.
“This list does not include a filibuster by William Proxmire (D-WI) on August 8-9, 1961, against the nomination of Lawrence J. O’Conner, Jr., to the Federal Power Commission. On that occasion, Proxmire kept the Senate in session for more than 30 hours, holding the floor for most of that time. He did not speak continuously, however, yielding only for questions, as was the case with the speeches listed here. Instead, he permitted interruptions for the transaction of other business while, by unanimous consent, retaining his right to the floor.”