Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., stormed out of a Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday and suggested every Republican leave the meeting after Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., blocked each Republican amendment to the Fire Grants and Safety Act.
Peters offered an amendment to the legislation, but Paul urged he already offered a second-degree amendment and, therefore, another could not be brought forward. “We have what, ultimated second-degree amendments?” the Republican Senator said. Peters then suggested Paul does not have the jurisdiction to call up an amendment for a vote.
“If this is the way you’re going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave. I don’t see why we should stick around if you’re going to make up the rules. I mean you’re going to offer up a third degree amendment,” Paul stated during the hearing.
After Paul suggested a walkout, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., chimed in, encouraging everyone to “take a couple minutes, lower the temperature, just figure out the procedure,” following the heated debate.
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“There’s no need for us to turn this committee hearing into a partisan, ugly place like we’ve seen in other committees. We don’t need to do that,” Sinema urged.
Paul continued to debate Peters’ effort for a secondary amendment. “I, for one, won’t stay here and recommend that no Republican stay here if we’re going to have third degree amendments that only the majority gets to offer,” he said.
Paul’s frustration emerged after he introduced several amendments to the bill, which were combated by Peters with secondary amendments, which are essentially the amendment of an amendment. The Republican urged that the hearing was the first time that “we’ve gotten second-degree amendments on every one of our amendments.”
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“Typically in that committee, we just have votes,” Paul voiced his frustration. “When we can’t work it out behind the scenes, we have a vote and not replace someone’s vote.”
Paul introduced an amendment to make any fire department that fired employees for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine ineligible for federal grants. Peters combated his suggestion by including language that would require audits and reports be conducted by U.S. comptroller on the departments denied federal funds. The modified amendment received unanimous Democratic support, with all Republicans voting against the new language.
Peters then intervened in another one of Paul’s amendments that would prevent funding from National Institutes of Health for “gain of function” research on coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, and at other laboratories. The Democrat suggested the language instead say that funds from the Fire Grants and Safety Act were barred “from being provided to a Chinese fire department.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Paul added after the second-degree amendment. “This is legislative legerdemain to obscure the fact that you’re trying to not vote directly on this.”
Following the debate, Peters said he hopes to find “common ground” with the Senator from Kentucky.
“I look forward to working with Sen. Paul and hopefully we can find common ground to go forward. Some of the amendments he offered were not germane to the substance of the bill that we were dealing with,” Peters said.
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