Coronavirus: Rand Paul holds up Senate vote on rescue package with doomed amendment

Andrew Naughtie
Rand Paul talks to reporters about the Senate Republican healthcare bill: Mark Wilson/Getty

As the US Senate prepares to pass a bill to help fund and speed up the response to coronavirus epidemic, Kentucky senator Rand Paul has introduced an amendment that will slow down the bill’s passage – even though the amendment has no chance of passing.

The bill being debated, which would provide free coronavirus testing and provisions for unemployment insurance and paid sick leave, has already been passed by the House of Representatives. While some Senators have voiced misgivings about it, with some saying it does not go far enough, the bill looks very likely to pass without dramatic alterations.

Mr Paul’s amendment, however, has no bearing on the substance on the substance of the bill. Instead, it would “require a social security number for purposes of the child tax credit, and to provide the President the authority to transfer funds as necessary, and to terminate United States military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.”

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, the other senator from Kentucky, has agreed to take up the amendment on Wednesday. It is not expected to pass, but by debating it, the Senate will slow down the overall bill’s passage.

Mr Paul has a record of bringing forward amendments that have little or no hope of becoming law, and which often delay the passage of major legislation.

Many have been concerned with limiting government spending. One attempted to balance a 9/11 victims’ compensation fund with new spending cuts, while another amendment to cut spending pushed the government into a brief shutdown in 2018.

Speaking on MSNBC as Mr Paul’s latest amendment was reported, his former senate colleague Claire McCaskill of Missouri minced no words about what is happening.

“Mitch didn’t get around to calling the Senate into session, and Monday passed, and now Tuesday has passed, because Rand Paul wants to vote on ending the war in Afghanistan.

“It is so outrageous that Rand Paul is being allowed to hijack the Senate tonight, and the bill that will include more testing – which we’ve all talked about all night as being so important – is gonna languish for another day to try to get Rand Paul to behave like a grown-up.”

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