During a media call discussing the Syrian civil war and potential U.S. involvement on Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul, R.-Ky., announced that he may filibuster the Senate's vote on whether to approve military strikes against Syria.
“I can’t imag[ine] that we won’t require 60 votes on this,” Paul said. “Whether there’s an actual standing filibuster, I have to check my shoes, and I have to check my ability to hold my water.”
In March, Paul made headlines by staging a near 13 hour filibuster of the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director over the Obama administration's use of drone strikes. Paul had received a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder stating that the administration could launch drone strikes on Americans within the United States, sparking the filibuster. Holder later backtracked, claiming that the president does not have this authority, causing Paul to end the filibuster.
Paul confronted Secretary of State John Kerry - who's been leading the Obama administration's charge to intervene in Syria - on Tuesday during testimony from Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey.
During Paul's questioning, he asked Kerry whether the president would adhere to Congress if they vote against a strike on Syria.
After saying he was proud of Pres. Obama for seeking Congressional authorization for a strike, Paul said, “make me proud today, Secretary Kerry. Stand up for us and say, you're going to obey the Constitution and if we vote you down, which is unlikely, but if we do, you would go with what the people say through their Congress, and you wouldn't go forward with the war that your Congress votes against. Can you give me a better answer, Secretary Kerry?”
“I can't give you a different answer than the one I gave you,” Kerry responded. “I don't know what the president's decision is, but I will tell you this, it ought to make you proud, because he still has the constitutional authority, and he would be in keeping with the Constitution.”
Paul stated that he disagreed with Kerry's view of the Constitution, citing the writings of James Madison. He further added that he believed the administration would be making a “joke” of Congress and would be playing “constitutional theater” if it ignores Congress.
Intervention in the Syrian civil war remains unpopular in the United States, with a recent poll finding only nine percent of Americans support it. Members of the U.S. military have also come out against attacking Syria, taking to the Internet to show their opposition.
Officers within the military have expressed apprehension to intervene as well, as they say the outcome of an attack on Syria is unpredictable.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that a strike could lead to an expansion of the war. He also stated that any “punitive” intervention without approval from the Security Council or a case for self-defense would be illegal.
"As I have repeatedly said, the Security Council has primary responsibility for international peace and security," Ban said Tuesday. “The use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations Charter and or when the Security Council approves such action.”
Ban added that the allegations of a chemical weapons attack last month “should be [seen] as [a] wakeup call for the international community,” and that the U.N. “is uniquely placed to independently establish the facts in an objective and impartial manner.”