Rand Paul ‘single handedly’ holds up $40 billion Ukraine aid bill
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul “single handedly” held up the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill last night by introducing a modification that would require a special inspector general to monitor the aid.
Moving the spending bill towards passage would have required unanimous consent of the chamber.
Lawmakers, who have shuttled billions of dollars through Congress in seeming record time over the last two months, are predictably annoyed.
“If every member held every bill in exchange for every last little demand, it would mean total and permanent paralysis for this chamber,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer exclaimed on the Senate floor. “When you have a proposal to change a bill, you have to convince members to support it. The junior senator from Kentucky has not done that.”
Paul, for his part, had warned he would be making this move in a local podcast earlier this week, and reminded that he was first obligated “to the national security of the United States of America,” not to Ukraine, no matter how good giving the weapons and humanitarian aid felt. He pointed to the deficit and current inflation, up to a 40-year high.
“We can’t save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy,” he said in his floor remarks. “Americans are feeling the pain and Congress seems content on adding to that pain by shuffling money out the door as fast as they can.”
He noted that adding to the billions the U.S. has given to Ukraine since 2014, Congress will have authorized some $60 billion in total spending to the country. Let’s put $60 billion into perspective, he said. “Ukraine would become the largest annual recipient of U.S. military aid in the past two decades.”
He noted that international partners and allies were stepping up, sending unprecedented amounts of weapons and aid to Ukraine at this time. “It’s not all about us, it isn’t that we always have to be the Uncle Sam, the policeman who saves the world, particularly when it’s on borrowed money,” he added. “America can’t afford to be world’s policeman.”
Schumer said he would not modify the bill, which would have to go back to the House, which already passed the bill.
“It’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks that he does not want to aid Ukraine, that is not the case for the overwhelming majority here.”