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Sen. Rand Paul stalls Biden’s $40B Ukraine aid vote

Senator Rand Paul (Gage Skidmore/Flockr)
May 13, 2022

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the Senate from quickly passing a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine after demanding language be added to the package to provide oversight for how the money is spent.

Paul provided his proposed change to the aid package’s language, which would set up an Inspector General to oversee how the funds are spent. The Hill reported Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed a Thursday vote on the aid package and a separate vote on Paul’s amendment language, but Paul rejected that proposal. Paul instead wanted his language added to the aid package itself, instead of taking the chance that the aid package will pass but his oversight amendment will fail in a separate vote.

Paul explained his demand for the oversight and his opposition to quickly passing the bill in a series of tweets on Thursday.

“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation. Congress is trying yet again to ram through a spending bill – one that I doubt anyone has actually read – and there’s no oversight included into how the money is being spent,” Paul tweeted. “All I requested is an amendment to be included in the final bill that allows for the Inspector General to oversee how funds are spent. Anyone who is opposed to this is irresponsible.”

“While I sympathize with the people of Ukraine, and commend their fight against Putin, we cannot continue to spend money we don’t have. Passing this bill brings the total we’ve sent to Ukraine to nearly $54 billion over the course of two months,” Paul continued. “It’s threatening our own national security, and it’s frankly a slap in the face to millions of taxpayers who are struggling to buy gas, groceries, and find baby formula.”

The Senate was set to take up the Ukraine aid package about two weeks after President Joe Biden called for an additional $33 billion in military, humanitarian and financial aid for Ukraine. Lawmakers expanded Biden’s $33 billion request, adding $7 billion more military and humanitarian spending.

“This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first,” Paul said before formally blocking the bill Thursday, The Guardian reported. “Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending.”

Senators were hoping to quickly pass the Ukraine aid package on Thursday before they wrapped up their work for the week. As senators began to leave early on Thursday, Schumer and McConnell tried to set up a quick vote on the bill, but under the senate rules for such a vote, it only takes one senator to object, according to The Hill.

Paul’s opposition to the quick vote blocked the Senate from being able to vote on the Ukraine aid package on Thursday. The Hill reported Paul’s decision will now delay a final vote on the bill by at least a week.

“I think they’re going to have to go through the long way,” Paul told The Hill.

The Ukraine aid package already passed in the House with 368 votes for the bill, and 57 Republicans opposed it.

Senators supporting the Ukraine aid package were hoping to pass the measures without making changes to the bill, which would require the House to vote once more on the changed bill.

Schumer criticized Paul’s move to block the aid package.

“He is not even asking for an amendment. He is simply saying my way or the highway,” Schumer said.

“I’m offering to hold a vote on his amendment, even though I disagree with it,” Schumer said. “Let the chamber speak its will. Let both sides of the aisle have input and for heaven’s sake, let Ukraine funding get done ASAP.”

Before Paul formally blocked the bill, McConnell issued a statement urging support for the Ukraine aid.

“Ukraine is not asking anybody else to do their fighting for them. They ask only for the resources they need to defend themselves against this lawless aggression,” McConnell said.

“I hope the Senate can reach an agreement to consider and pass this legislation today,” McConnell said Thursday.