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Rand Paul Declares a Short-Term Patriot Act Victory, as His Opponents Bristle

The Patriot Act is dead, for a few hours.
Senator Rand Paul (R), R-KY, speaks to the press at the Senate after speaking in the chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on May 31, 2015.

Senator Rand Paul (R), R-KY, speaks to the press at the Senate after speaking in the chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on May 31, 2015.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The Senate was girded for an epic night. A stock of hot pizzas had been brought in for sustenance. Reporters placed bets on whether they'd be working into Monday. Republican Representatives Justin Amash and Thomas Massie sat on benches in the back of the Senate well, promising to block quick action on any bill that was sent to the House. Dozens of activists wearing "Stand With Rand" T-shirts occupied the public galleries, tirelessly cycling in and out to stare down his 99 opponents. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul had said for days that he would "force the expiration of the Patriot Act," and people had a pretty good idea of how that would look.

People were wrong. Most of Paul's allies, from Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee to Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, were ready to vote for the USA Freedom Act that barred the National Security Agency's bulk data collection and forced it to obtain that data from the private sector. After that bill passed, still before sundown, Paul essentially declared victory and went home.