Sen. Paul Agrees to Vote on USA PATRIOT Act; Sen. Reid Refuses
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Moments ago, Sen. Rand Paul again urged Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to keep his agreement to allow debate and an open amendment process for the USA PATRIOT Act, but Sen. Reid refused. Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to address Sen. Reid's scurrilous attacks and to ask the Senate for unanimous consent for reasonable consideration of three amendments. Sen. Reid personally objected, proving that he is to blame for holding up the USA PATRIOT Act and unwilling to keep his word allowing debate and amendments to the extension bill.
I rise in response to a scurrilous accusation. I've been accused of wanting to allow terrorists to have weapons to attack America. To be attacked of such a belief when I'm here to discuss and debate the constitutionality of the PATRIOT Act is offensive.
I find it personally insulting. And I think it demeans the body. It demeans the Senate body and the people that we can't have an intelligent debate over the constitutionality of this.
I am somehow to be told that because I believe a judge should sign a warrant that I'm in favor of terrorists having weapons?
The absurdity of it, the insult of it. If one argues that judges should sign warrants before they go into the house of an alleged murderer, are you in favor of murder?
Can we not have a debate on a higher plane, a debate over whether or not there should be some constitutional protections, some constitutional procedure? But to come to the floor and accuse me of being in favor of giving weapons to terrorists. Can our Constitution withstand?
Is our Constitution strong enough that we could actually capture terrorism -- capture terrorists and protect our liberties at the same time?
Should we have some rules that say before they come into your house, before they go into your banking records, that a judge should be asked for permission, that there should be judicial review? Do we want a lawless land? Do we want a land that is so much without restraint, a government without restraint that at any point in time they can come into your house?
We were very worried about that. That's why our country was founded on principles such as the fourth amendment to protect us from an overzealous government. But to transform an argument where good people might disagree into an accusation that I would let terrorists have weapons, no, I believe that we would stop terrorism but do it in a constitutional fashion where you would have a warrant issued by a judge.
Some people say we don't have enough time to do that. In the morning, judges are routinely called when someone is accused of rape, when someone is accused of murder. When there is an alleged crime, we get warrants and it's worked for 225 years until we decided to throw out the Constitution.
We threw out the Constitution with the PATRIOT Act because we changed the Constitution, not by two-thirds in this body voting for it and not by three-fourths of the state but by a scared 51 percent who threw out their liberties. They said make me safe. I want to be safe. I'm afraid, make me safe, but they gave up their liberties.
I think it was a mistake and i think we should have an intelligent and rational discussion over this, but i don't think it furthers the debate to accuse someone who has Constitutional concerns about the way we were doing things to accuse them of being in favor of putting hands -- weapons into the hands of terrorists. I object strongly to this.
The leader has said that they will compromise. They said one week of debate in February and open amendments. They would be open to amendments, even amendments they disagreed with. Do whatever people feel is appropriate on this bill. This doesn't mean just amendments that are not emotional or just amendments that had nothing to do with guns.
They are petrified to vote on issues of guns because they know that a lot of people in America favor the second amendment, own guns and want to protect it in the right to own guns and the right to have those records not sifted through by the government.
We don't want a government that eventually will allow for direction of the police towards those who own guns. We don't want our records to be public. We don't want our records to be sifted through by a government without judicial review.
They don't want to vote on this because they know the American people agree with us, and if you polled this question, you would find 80% to 90% of Americans don't want their banking records, don't want their gun records to be sifted through by a government without a judge ever giving any approval of this.
This is a constitutional question, and I would ask the leader to stand by his agreement to an open -- an open amendment process.
And so at this time I will ask unanimous consent that my amendments numbered 363, 365 and 368 be in order, and within one hour of debate on each be followed by a roll call vote. I ask unanimous consent that this occur at this time.