After a 13-hour, old-fashioned filibuster, the U.S. Senate confirmed 25-year CIA veteran John Brennan Thursday 63 to 34 as the agency's director.
But the nomination was not without a dramatic display of political showmanship.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul used Brennan's nomination to get answers about the country's drone program—specifically whether President Obama believes he has the authority to kill Americans suspected of terrorism on U.S. soil without trial.
Since his time as the president's counterterrorism adviser, Brennan has maintained a critical role in shaping the CIA's drone program.
Brennan began his intelligence career as a CIA analyst and also served as the agency's deputy executive director.
"I can't ultimately stop the nomination," Paul said during his filibuster. "What I can do is try to draw attention to this and try to get an answer."
Brennan's confirmation vote came just hours after Attorney General Eric Holder provided Paul with the answer to his question. "The answer to that question is no," Holder wrote Paul.
Holder's answer was not sufficient enough to some GOP Senators. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Paul announced legislation following Brennan's confirmation that would make it illegal for the government to target Americans on U.S. soil with a drone.
"Our Constitution restrains government power," Cruz said in a statement. "The federal government may not use drones to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil if they do not represent an imminent threat. The Commander in Chief does, of course, have the power to protect Americans from imminent attack, and nothing in this legislation interferes with that power."
Meanwhile. Paul's filibuster revealed a schism in the Republican party. Paul was supported during his filibuster by Cruz and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida while members of the old guard—GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina—dismissed his stunt as "ridiculous."
"Somehow to allege that the United States of America, our government, would drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda ... that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous," McCain said on the Senate floor Thursday. "The country needs more Senators who care about liberty, but if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he's talking about."
Paul and Cruz also voted against Brennan to be CIA director.