Top Ukrainian government officials blasted Sen. Rand Paul on Friday after he objected to a bill that would send $40 billion in additional military and humanitarian aid to the Eastern European country.
The Kentucky Republican denied leaders of both parties the unanimous consent needed for the Senate to quickly debate and vote on the package, which had already been passed by the House Tuesday evening.
“We all saw a @CNN video where [Russian] soldiers shot civilians in the back just for fun,” tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office. “How many such crimes are happening at the moment in the east and south of [Ukraine]? Price of delay per day – hundreds killed and raped. Price per week – thousands. Have a nice morning coffee, @RandPaul.”
“We could have already started using the new U.S. assistance package to more effectively save lives of Ukrainians who defend the democratic world. @POTUS, @SecBlinken, @SenateGOP, @SenateDems and American people were in strong support, and @RandPaul delayed so much needed support,” wrote Dymtro Kulbea, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs.
The bill is almost certain to pass the Senate and be signed by President Biden next week, but Republicans and Democrats alike expressed exasperation at Paul over his block on legislation that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted Thursday should be approved at once.
“Ukraine is not asking us to fight this war,” Paul’s fellow Kentuckian said. “They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged invasion, and they need help right now.”
“The package is ready to go. The vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “There is now only one thing holding us back. The junior senator from Kentucky is preventing the swift passage of Ukraine aid because he wants to add at the last minute his own changes directly into the bill.”
“His change is strongly opposed by many members of both parties,” Schumer added. “He is not even asking for an amendment [vote]. He is simply saying my way or the highway.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told MSNBC’S “Morning Joe” Friday that Paul’s actions were “completely inexcusable.”
“The truth is, this honestly could have been done Wednesday night,” Tester said. “I mean, everything was ready to go. It’s one of the problems with the US Senate when you have one person that can obstruct everything.
“And you know, we had this debate back in January that we shouldn’t be allowing this,” the lawmaker went on, referring to the Senate filibuster. “If you want to hold the floor, hold the floor, but at some point in time that has to end.”
Paul has insisted on adding language to the bill that would create a special inspector general position to oversee the distribution of the funds.
“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 explained in a Twitter thread Thursday night.
“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,” he continued.
Paul insisted that he sympathizes with Ukraine and “their fight against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” but said the US “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,” he wrote. “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.”
In an attempt to move forward on the aid, McConnell and Schumer offered a deal to Paul that would have allowed a vote on his amendment, but would also have required it to receive 60 votes to be added to the bill.
Paul still refused to budge.
“I think they’re going to have to go through the long way,” he told The Hill.
Biden administration officials have said they expect the latest Ukraine aid measure to suffice through September, which would be seven months after Russia’s initial invasion.
With Post wires