First Read: “Say what you will about Rand Paul’s marathon filibuster — whether it was a noble cause, a vanity project with 2016 overtones, or a protest over a hypothetical — but it makes the case for filibuster reform requiring senators to actually SPEAK if they want to hold things up. Why? Because it truly forced a debate, in this case over the administration’s drone policy targeting terrorists.”
“I would go for another 12 hours to try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but I’ve discovered that there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here.”
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by the New York Times, ending his filibuster after 13 hours and looking forward to using a bathroom.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) signaled “it may already be time to reopen the debate about the chamber’s rules, given Republicans have attempted to or plan to filibuster three presidential appointments in the month and a half since the chamber approved modest filibuster changes,” Roll Call reports.
Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) launched a filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA: “I will speak until I can no longer speak.”
Roll Call: “Behind a discreet set of double doors on the first floor of the Russell Senate Office Building lies one of the last oases of what was once the world’s greatest good-old-boys club: the Senate’s members-only gym, one of the few places where members… can just be themselves without fear of repercussions.”
Said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY): “The sweat-filled room has now replaced the smoke-filled room.”
Ross Douthat: “Paul has done what successful politicians tend to do: He’s picked his battles, done outreach to his critics, and consistently framed his arguments in language that conservative voters and activists understand. This has enabled him to break with the party’s hawkish tilt on a number of substantive questions, from the Libya and Syria debates to issues of executive power to the question of whether containment should be an option for dealing with Iran, without coming in for anything like the attacks that greeted Hagel’s nomination. He’s put his foot in his mouth here and there and taken fire from both his friends and foes along the way, and future world events (particularly events related to Iran) may upset his tightrope walk. But at the moment he seems like living, breathing proof that there’s room for actual foreign policy debate within the Republican coalition, and that not every non-hawk need be dismissed as a RINO and read out of the party.”
Roll Call: “Senate Republicans are on track to confirm several of President Obama’s key Cabinet officials, despite weeks of protests and grandstanding from the GOP.”
Roll Call: “The class of senators swept into office riding Barack Obama’s coattails in 2008 — giving Democrats a supermajority in the process — now stands to be the party’s majority firewall when it faces voters in 2014.”
“This cycle, there are more than enough seats in play for Senate Democrats to lose the majority. But party aides remain confident in their eight first-term Democrats up for re-election — all of whom won GOP seats six years ago.”
Jane Mayer reports that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a 1995 graduate of Harvard Law School, gave a speech several years ago in which he accused a dozen professors of being communists who were committed to “overthrowing the United States government.”
Said Cruz: “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
He added that President Obama “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.”
First Read: “We know that supporters of freshmen Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D) and Ted Cruz (R) don’t enjoy the comparisons between the two senators, especially since they couldn’t be more different ideologically. That said, the comparisons are also hard to resist. They’re both ambitious. They’ve both set up leadership PACs… to make sure everyone KNOWS they are ambitious! Unlike the cautious courses that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even Marco Rubio set after being elected, both have been more than willing to shake things up. And, as a result, both aren’t necessarily viewed as team players — a quality that their supporters appreciate.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) gave a $600,000 check to the U.S. Treasury, “taking the money he said he didn’t need from his office’s budget to make a tiny dent in the nation’s massive federal debt,” CNN reports.
Said Paul: “We watch every purchase. We watch what computers we buy, what paper we buy, the ink cartridges. We treat the money like it’s our money, or your money, and we look at every expenditure.”
A new Quinnipiac poll in New Jersey finds voters disapprove of the job Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is doing by 41% to 36%, a
15-point drop in less than a month, and by 44% to 28% say that he is not honest and trustworthy.
National Journal finds Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) is the Senate’s “most conservative” member.
“Risch, a former governor, entered the Senate in 2009 at the age of
65. While not a figure with much national press since then, Risch has
been a true stalwart when it comes to his conservative voting record,
most recently being one of just eight Republican senators to vote
against the Violence Against Women Act.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) both tied for “most liberal.”
New York Times: “After two grueling election cycles, Guy Cecil, the brains behind the Democrats’ improbable Senate showings in 2010 and 2012, was expected to set aside his political combat boots for tasseled loafers and a sinecure somewhere in this city that pays handsomely for success.”
“Then his old boss, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, reluctantly took the helm of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, looking at another brutal map for Democrats eager to stay in control of Congress’s upper chamber. He had one demand: Keep Guy Cecil aboard.”
In just two months, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “has made his presence felt in an institution where new arrivals are usually not heard from for months, if not years,” the New York Times reports.
“Besides suggesting that Mr. Hagel might have received compensation from foreign enemies, he has tangled with the mayor of Chicago, challenged the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat on national television, voted against virtually everything before him — including the confirmation of John Kerry as secretary of state — and raised the hackles of colleagues from both parties.”
The Cloakroom: Why Americans hate Congress.
Beth Reinhard: “No matter that he’s only punched up the old
script, swung back and forth on immigration policy, and never shepherded
major legislation through Congress. What Rubio brings is the star
power, adoring fan base, and command of the national media unmatched
these days by anyone in Washington outside of the Oval Office. It’s the
same aggressive product placement that has made the 41-year-old a
top-tier presidential contender just two years after his swearing-in.
Rubio is the GOP’s Barack Obama, minus the intellectual heft intimated
by two Ivy League degrees and a law-school faculty post. A Generation
X-er with a name that sounds like change. The author of an American
Dream-laced memoir that, audiences are frequently reminded, helped pay
off his student loans. A former state lawmaker and a Senate short-timer
with a thin binder of achievements but perhaps blessed with the greatest
rhetorical gifts in politics today.”