Washington (CNN)–Freshman Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who angrily squared off with the top Senate Democrat Wednesday, turned his sights on his own party’s leaders Thursday, accusing them of preventing a vote on his amendment to the Patriot Act that would require government investigators to get a court order before reviewing people’s gun ownership records.
The stand off had threatened to cause key post-9-11 anti-terrorism surveillance tools to lapse for several hours past midnight when those provisions of the law are set to expire.
Republican leaders ultimately relented and agreed to allow votes on Paul’s proposals. In spite of the struggle, the amendments were overwhelmingly rejected and the Patriot Act was approved and sent to the House for a final vote.
Earlier, in a rare public rebuke of his Senate leadership, Paul told CNN he was “disappointed” by their actions and urged people to contact GOP leadership offices in protest.
“I’ve been working for two long days filibustering the Patriot Act in hopes that we can have a constitutional debate over certain provisions of it and we can try to reform it to take away some of the encroachments on our freedoms,” Paul said in an interview.
“Unfortunately, what we’re finding now is that the Democrats have agreed to allow me to have amendments but my own party is refusing to allow me to debate or present my amendments.”
The Kentuckian, who was elected with the backing of the Tea Party movement, said he wanted the American people to press GOP leaders to allow a vote.
“If you believe that your gun records should be private and they shouldn’t be opened and sifted through by unknown bureaucrats without a judge’s warrant than you should call your Republican leadership in Washington and tell them you’re unhappy,” he said.
Paul said he believed Republicans leaders didn’t want a vote on his amendment because they were conflicted by it. On one hand, he said, they didn’t want to vote to weaken the Patriot Act by making it more difficult for law enforcement to obtain any information – including gun records - related to a terrorism investigation. On the other hand, they didn’t want to take a vote that will be potentially viewed negatively by gun rights groups.
Late in the day, shortly after an agreement was announced, Senate aides released a letter from the National Rifle Association in which the influential gun group said it decided not to take a position on the amendment.