Will Rand Paul filibuster Syria authorization?

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W. James Antle III Managing Editor
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Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s stance on Syria, but will he launch another filibuster to block a military strike?

During a conference call after Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Paul told reporters he was undecided.

“I can’t imagine that we won’t require 60 votes on this,” Paul said. “Whether there’s an actual standing filibuster — I gotta check my shoes and check my ability to hold my water, and we’ll see. I haven’t made a decision on that.”

Paul said he received “standing ovations” in Kentucky when he talked about his opposition to a Syria war. He added that his Senate colleagues were “out of touch” with public opinion.

The senator said he would reach across the aisle in an attempt to defeat the authorization of force. He suggested that attempts to re-word the resolution to limit what the president could do militarily in Syria might cost the administration the votes of more hawkish “traditional Republicans” without gaining his.

Paul said no one “really doubts that there was a chemical attack” in Syria, but he expressed concern that a military intervention could destabilize the region, lead to attacks on Israel, and escalate tensions with Russia and Iran.

Secretary of State John Kerry told Paul that he does not consider the proposed Syria mission “going to war in a classic sense.”

Paul conducted a 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to run the CIA in March in order to protest the Obama administration’s drone policy. The move received substantial media attention and intensified public opposition to drones and the extrajudicial killing of American citizens.

The senator ultimately relented and allowed Brennan to be confirmed after receiving assurances that there were limits to the drone powers the administration was asserting.

While the top two House Republicans said they would support the president on Syria Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — Paul’s fellow Republican senator from Kentucky — has not declared where he stands.

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