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Republican senator Rand Paul blocks $40bn aid package to Ukraine despite GOP move to pass it

Comes despite the fact both parties agreed to pass it

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Thursday 12 May 2022 22:50 BST
Rand Paul blocks Ukraine aid bill

Senator Rand Paul blocked the Senate’s attempt to pass a $40bn aid package to Ukraine despite the fact leaders from both parties wanted to pass it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer requested unanimous consent to pass the legislation on behalf of himself and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“We have a moral obligation, a moral obligation, to stand with Ukraine in its fight against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s immoral war,” Mr Schumer said. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed the legislation, but Mr Schumer faulted Mr Paul, who serves as a Senator from Kentucky alongside Mr McConnell.

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

But Mr Paul objected to the passage.

“My oath of office is to the US Constitution, not to any foreign nation, and no matter how sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security interests of the United States of America,” he said on the Senate floor. Specifically, Mr Paul said he wanted to have more oversight of the spending on Ukraine.

“We cannot save Ukraine, by dooming the US economy,” he said. “This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months and this bill is three times larger than the first.”

Specifically, Mr Paul said that the package being debated is larger than the first and said inflation was the result of deficit spending.

“If this gift to Ukraine passes, our total aid to Ukraine almost equal the entire military budget of Russia,” he said. “And it’s not as if we have that money lying around. We will have to borrow that money from China to send to Ukraine.”

Mr Paul cited the fact that many countries got involved in the conflict against Russia.

“In other words, it’s not all about us,” he said. “Yet, the United States accounts for nearly half of what’s been spent so far.”

The Senate had hoped to pass the package swiftly. After initially wanting to attach relief for Covid-19 to the package, President Joe Biden said he would accept the Ukraine aid package being passed in a standalone way. The House passed the Ukraine bill overwhelmingly, with only 57 Republicans and no Democrats voting against it.

Mr McConnell similarly lamented the block.

“I understand my friend and colleague from Kentucky would like changes to the bill,” he said. “Those changes are not acceptable to the Democratic majority as we just heard. So I think there’s a simply way to solve this: We should vote on Senator Paul’s amendment and then we should pass the supplemental and we should do it today.”

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