Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor on Monday afternoon to slow the passage of a $95.3 supplemental spending package that sends new rounds of funding to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
The libertarian-oriented Kentucky Republican called into question the decision to approve nearly $100 billion in foreign aid while the U.S. sovereign debt exceeds $34 trillion.
“In what kind of world do you borrow money to send charity?” Mr. Paul asked, in a speech that lasted nearly an hour.
Mr. Paul went on to attribute continued debt spending to the devaluation of the dollar.
“The way we pay for the debt is we print up money. The Federal Reserve buys the debt, but the Federal Reserve has no money, so they print up the money and they dilute the value of the existing currency,” he said. “What does that mean? Inflation. Prices go up, but so does the cost of government.”
Mr. Paul’s Senate floor speech came after the Senate voted 67–27, in a rare Super Bowl Sunday vote, advanced the supplemental spending bill to a final deliberation stage, with a Senate vote likely to take place this week. In total, 18 Senate Republicans joined 47 Democrats and two independents in voting to advance the foreign military aid package.
If Sunday’s procedural vote is an indicator, the spending supplemental likely has enough votes to pass in the Senate.
Earlier on in the deliberations over the spending supplemental, Republicans had sought to tie their approval of new rounds of foreign military aid to the adoption of stricter border security policies. A proposed $118 billion version of the spending supplemental included some border and immigration provisions, but the deal collapsed as many Republicans said those border and immigration provisions would have done little to slow the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
Mr. Paul criticized the Senate Republicans who appeared to abandon the border security issue in their vote to advance the slightly scaled-down spending package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
“41 Republicans could’ve stood and said ‘No, we want something better. There’s an emergency on the border. We will not settle for anything until we get a border security bill.’ Instead, it folded. Why? Because Republican leadership is flying with the Democrat leadership to Kyiv. Because they have prioritized Ukraine over the southern border. There’s no other way to put it,” Mr. Paul said.
McConnell, Schumer Say Foreign Aid Preserves US Security, Values
Speaking in support of the $95.3 billion spending supplemental, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued that this continued spending serves the vital interests of the United States.
“We haven’t equipped the brave people of Ukraine, Israel, or Taiwan with lethal capabilities in order to win philanthropic accolades. We’re not urgently strengthening defenses in the Indo-Pacific because it feels good. We don’t wield American strength frivolously. We do it because it is in our own interest,” Mr. McConnell said. “We equip our friends to face our shared adversaries so we’re less likely to have to spend American lives to defeat them.”
The top Senate Republican said money for Ukraine is necessary to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Mr. McConnell described as a “despot” who “wants to see America weakened.” Similarly, he argued that spending for Taiwan is necessary to counter a Chinese “autocrat” who “wants to consign American leadership to history.” For Israel, Mr. McConnell said U.S. aid is necessary to counter an Iranian regime that “wants to shatter” U.S. influence in the Middle East “and spill American blood in the process.”
Mr. Paul took a more skeptical view of how continued support for Ukraine preserves democratic values. During his speech, Mr. Paul said Ukraine routinely ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world and has punished speech critical of the government. He also noted Ukraine is not planning to hold democratic elections so long as it remains in a state of martial law.
“The Republican leadership and all of the Democrats are bending over backwards to send money to a country that doesn’t have elections,” he said. “This is a country that has banned media criticism.”
While the supplemental spending package appears likely to pass in the Senate, it faces a less certain future in the House, where large numbers of Republicans have expressed skepticism toward continued funding for Ukraine. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has indicated he could try to split the various aid provisions into separate measures once the bill arrives from the Senate, putting spending for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan to separate votes.
A Republican-led attempt to advance a standalone Israel aid through the House failed in a 250–180 vote, coming up short of the two-thirds vote margin it needed to pass under a suspension of the House rules. Two-hundred and four Republicans and 46 Democrats voted in favor of the standalone Israel funding bill, while 14 Republicans and 166 Democrats opposed the effort.