Paul vs. Reid: An Epic Battle Over the PATRIOT Act

This week, the Senate floor was witness to a back-and-forth skirmish of political maneuvering and parliamentary gamesmanship between Senator Rand Paul and Senator Harry Reid over the reauthorization of the misnamed, unconstitutional PATRIOT Act.

In the end, Sen. Paul was only successful at getting a debate and a vote on two of the amendments he had proposed to the tyrannical legislation, despite Sen. Reid’s promises that there would be a week of debate and an open amendment process, but Sen. Paul’s efforts to push the issue as far as he could were valiant and admirable nonetheless.

We’ve put together a timeline of the blow-by-blow of how it all went down below.  But first, some relevant videos:


  • Rep. Ron Paul says in a video update that the Congress plans to extend some of the worst clauses of the PATRIOT Act as “quietly as possible.”


  • Sen. Rand Paul posts a video and a statement stating his strong opposition to the extension and applauding the house for initially voting it down.


  • The House passes a ten month extension, sends it to the Senate.


  • Sen. Paul writes a “Dear Colleague” letter explaining to other members of Congress his concerns with the extension.
  • Sen. Paul threatens to filibuster the bill, so Sen. Reid makes a deal with Sen. Paul to pass a 90 day extension and promises to have at least a week of debate and an open amendment process on the bill before the extension expires.
  • The Senate passes a 90 day extension 86-12, sends it to the House.


  • The House passes the 90 day extension 279-143.

86 days pass and the PATRIOT Act is once again taken up by the Senate.


  • Senate invokes cloture on another extension 74-8.
  • Sen. Mike Lee tweets he could not vote due to weather delay, but that he would have voted “no.”
  • Sen. Paul speaks on the floor in opposition, introduces 8 amendments.
  • Sen. Paul tells reporters he will “drag [the debate] out” if he doesn’t get the debate and votes he was promised.



  • Sen. Paul speaks again about the need for honest debate on the PATRIOT Act extension.
  • Sen. Mike Lee speaks in support of Sen. Paul.
  • Sen. Reid takes the floor and launches baseless accusations at Sen. Paul, claiming that he wants to put guns in the hands of terrorists.
  • Sen. Paul responds, calls Sen. Reid’s claims offensive and insulting, and defies Sen. Reid by calling for a vote on 3 of his 8 amendments. Sen. Reid objects and prevents roll call votes on the amendments from happening.
  • Sen. Paul appears on Freedom Watch to explain his opposition to the bill.


  • The Senate votes 79-18 to move forward with the extension.
  • Slate reports that Republicans are blocking Sen. Paul’s efforts.
  • A White House official accuses Sen. Paul of threatening national security.
  • The Senate debates and votes on two of Sen. Paul’s amendments.
  • The PATRIOT Act passes the Senate 72-23 and is signed by President Obama minutes before it is set to expire.
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