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‘Pop the cork.’ Kentucky’s Rand Paul filibusters over package to give more aid to Ukraine

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at the CATO Institute in Washington, D.C., on July 27, 2017. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

Sen. Rand Paul initiated a filibuster of a $95 billion foreign aid package Monday, openly chastising GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for working with Democrats to provide more money to Ukraine when the U.S. is saddled with a $34 trillion debt.

“Open the champagne, pop the cork. The Senate Democrat leader and the Republican leader are on their way to Kyiv. They’ve got $60 billion they’re bringing. I don’t know if it will be cash in pallets, but they’re taking your money to Kyiv,” Paul said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

He continued, “There is no money to give them. We’re out. We are flat out of cash.”

In a rare Super Bowl Sunday session, the Senate voted to move forward with a supplemental bill that would provide U.S. treasury to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan for defense and security purposes.

McConnell contended U.S. security and prosperity is intrinsically tied to the outcome of Ukraine’s war with Russia, which is about to enter its third year.

“From halfway around the world in the Indo-Pacific, our friends have made it clear that in the Ukrainian people’s fight, they see their own future,” McConnell said on Sunday. “Our allies and partners are hoping that the indispensable nation – the leader of the free world – has the resolve to continue. And our adversaries are hoping for something quite different.”

Paul, a longtime opponent of American military interventionism, argued that it was “ludicrous” to say U.S. security was impacted by Ukraine’s autonomy. He said if lawmakers believed the two were tied, the money should be allocated out of the Pentagon’s budget.

“I think sending money to Ukraine actually makes our national security more endangered,” Paul charged. “Why? Because I think it threatens the fiscal solvency of our country.”

Paul previously accused Senate leadership – both McConnell and Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer – of “criminal neglect” for prioritizing Ukraine aid over fixing the U.S. southern border.

A bipartisan deal to link new immigration restrictions to foreign funds disintegrated last week after former President Donald Trump announced his opposition and a band of conservative senators revolted.

Senate leadership decided to proceed with a stand-alone foreign aid package, putting aside the problems at the U.S. southern border.

The bill would have closed the border if more than 5,000 migrants came into the country on a single day. That threshold was too high for Paul and other Republicans, who said that amount already constituted an emergency. Paul stressed that he remains a sponsor of multiple bills that would increase legal immigration.

“Bowling Green, Kentucky is known for people from all over the world. We have 100 languages being spoken in our schools,” Paul said. “This has nothing to do with not wanting immigrants. It has to do with not wanting 750,000 people to come across who we don’t know who they are – most of them are males of a military age.”

Though Paul’s speechifying on Monday was designed to signal significant domestic unease with continued funding of a foreign war, the Senate likely has enough votes to validate the McConnell position.

Sunday’s vote to advance the legislation tallied 67-27, with the 27 “nos” all being Republicans. Eighteen Republicans sided with 47 Democrats and two independents in favor of proceeding with the package.

After more procedural votes, a final vote is expected on Wednesday, which would send the bill on to the House, where it faces uncertain prospects amid a hostile GOP majority.


© 2024 McClatchy Washington Bureau

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