US Senator Rand Paul blocked the Senate from passing a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine this week, derailing a plan to fast-track legislation that his fellow Kentucky minority leader in Senate, Mitch McConnell, supported.
Paul wanted a provision added to the bill that would appoint an inspector general to oversee how these billions are spent. When that didn’t happen, he objected and effectively forced the Senate to wait until next week to vote on aid to Ukraine due to procedural rules.
McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were actually working together to try to get the aid approved Thursday.
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They were willing to let senators vote separately on Paul’s proposed amendment, which would have required 60 votes to pass, rather than adding it directly to the aid package before senators voted to approve it.
It was not enough for Paul.
“My oath of office is to the United States Constitution, not to any foreign nation. And however sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security of the United States,” he said. in the Senate on Thursday afternoon.
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Paul, who has long been skeptical of US military involvement and foreign aid to other countries, criticized the billions of dollars the US has spent on Ukraine, both since the Russia invaded the country in February and in recent years.
“With a debt of $30 trillion, America cannot afford to be the policeman of the world,” he said.
McConnell publicly urged his fellow Republican senator from Kentucky to change course — to no avail.
Speaking in the Senate on Thursday, McConnell recommended that Paul accept the proposed compromise: let senators vote separately on his proposed amendment, then pass the Ukraine aid package so they can do it from here. the end of the day. (The House of Representatives has already approved the aid, and if the Senate had amended the bill, it would have required another vote in the House.)
“Ukraine is not asking us to fight this war. They are only asking for the resources they need to defend against this deranged invasion, and they need that help now,” McConnell said. “This conflict has direct and major consequences for American national security and the American national interest.”
Schumer derided Paul’s intransigence in his own Senate speech, noting that “the vast majority” of Democratic and Republican senators support the aid package.
“Now there’s only one thing holding us back. The young senator from Kentucky is preventing rapid passage of aid to Ukraine because he wants to add, at the last minute, his own changes directly into the bill. Its change is strongly opposed by many in both parties,” he said of Paul on Thursday. “He just says, ‘My way, or the highway.’
“When you have a proposed amendment to a bill, you can’t just speak up and demand it by decree. First you have to convince the other members to support it. That’s how the Senate.”
Paul did not move.
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He defended his decision on Twitter on Thursday evening, saying: “All I asked for was an amendment to be included in the final bill that allows the Inspector General to oversee how the funds are spent. Anyone who opposes it is irresponsible.”
“Passing this bill brings the total we sent to Ukraine to nearly $54 billion in two months,” he continued. “It threatens our own national security, and it’s frankly a slap in the face for millions of taxpayers who are struggling to buy gas, groceries and find formula.”
Morgan Watkins is the Courier Journal’s chief political reporter. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @morganwatkins26.