Tags: Rand Paul | mcconnell | rand paul | cooperation | strain

WaPo: McConnell-Paul Relationship Strained by Patriot Act

By    |   Sunday, 24 May 2015 06:14 PM

Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have become closer in recent months, but that is being put to the test as they battle over renewing the Patriot Act, The Washington Post reports.

Paul, a freshman tea party senator, took on McConnell, the establishment Senate majority leader, last week as Paul spoke from the Senate floor in a near 11-hour speech as part of a procedural maneuver to stop renewal of the law that Paul believes invades the privacy of Americans.

McConnell is pushing a "clean" renewal of most of the Patriot Act, including mass phone metadata storage by the National Security Agency.

Paul caught McConnell off guard on Wednesday, using his filibuster-style speech to effectively knock consideration of a Patriot Act renewal until after Congress returns from a weeklong recess this coming week.

But the Patriot Act expires on June 1, a week from Monday, which would cause the law to go out of effect before it could be renewed. So McConnell has called the Senate into session on Sunday, May 31 to hold its vote for renewal.

My colleagues, do we really want this law to expire?" McConnell said. "We’ve got a week to discuss it; we’ll have one day to do it."

McConnell and Paul's early relationship wasn't close. Paul ran against McConnell's hand-picked candidate for the seat and won in the tea party sweep of 2010. But they eventually became friends and have been seen as a bridge between the establishment and tea party wings of the Republican Party.

McConnell even endorsed his fellow Kentuckian's current presidential bid, calling Paul "the most credible candidate for president of the United States since Henry Clay."

But it could be that very candidacy that is driving a wedge between the two over the Patriot Act, some say. Paul comes from a libertarian background. His father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul has run for president over the years both as a Republican and a Libertarian.

But in a crowded 2016 GOP presidential field, Rand Paul could be using his libertarian views on privacy to set himself apart from his competitors.

McConnell, on the other hand, needs to have his party seen as keeping a steady hand on national security issues as a number of Republican senators face possibly tough re-election battles in 2016.

Those conflicting views and motivations have set the two men against each other, but both camps say it hasn't hurt their relationship overall.

"I think we have good relations," Paul told the Post. "Really, period. We’re friends and we disagree on this issue. . . . We have disagreements in our caucus all the time. But I try to keep it on a friendly basis, and, you know, I don’t think this will hurt our friendship."

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart agreed.

"They’re friends and work together well for Kentucky. They have different opinions on the Patriot Act," he said.

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Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have become closer in recent months, but that is being put to the test as they battle over renewing the Patriot Act, The Washington Post reports.
mcconnell, rand paul, cooperation, strain
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2015-14-24
Sunday, 24 May 2015 06:14 PM
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