Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky who won his primary by more than 80 points Tuesday night, is not afraid to stand alone. In 2018, Paul prevented the Senate from passing a $300 billion deal to fund the government without any debate, triggering a short government shutdown in the process. He did the same last year, when the Senate sought to spend $1 billion on replenishing Israel’s iron dome. And over the past week, Paul was the only senator who objected to passing a bipartisan $40 billion aid package for Ukraine through unanimous consent, requiring the Senate to go through normal Senate procedures before dispensing the eleven-figure sum to Zelensky and the Ukrainians.
In exchange for his support, Paul insisted on the appointment of an inspector general that would oversee how U.S. taxpayer dollars were used in America’s efforts to help Ukraine stave off the Russian invasion. In response, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed allowing the Senate to vote on the aid package, and then vote on an amendment that would extend the inspector general for Afghanistan’s prerogative to Ukraine.
Likely knowing his amendment would fail, because why would the Senate open itself up to the threat of accountability, Paul rejected the deal and demanded the legislation be altered to include his language, which would have sent the bill back to the House.
After Paul managed to delay the aid package, defenders of the regime’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine tried to shame Paul with absurd and frantic pronouncements that would have people believe the Kentucky senator completely prevented the aid package from getting to the Resolute desk. One can only dream.
Charles Booker, a former Kentucky State representative who is seeking to unseat Paul this November, tweeted his condemnation. “Rand Paul does not give a damn about our safety or survival,” Booker wrote. “He opposes aid to Ukraine for the same reason he opposes relief here at home: he doesn’t think our government has a responsibility to help anyone but his super wealthy friends.”
“Is Rand Paul still holding up US aid to Ukraine?” Garry Kasparov, chairman of the Human Rights Foundation tweeted. “Ukrainians are dying every hour while this buffoon grandstands, already with a long history of defending Putin and courting Russian investment.”
Chris Hahn, a left-wing pundit, proclaimed, “the Senate is broken,” via Twitter.
“90% of Americans support aiding Ukraine,” Hahn tweeted. “1 Senator, Rand Paul, blocked passage of Aid to Ukraine.”
Olexander Scherba, the Ukrainian ambassador to Austria from 2014-2021, said Paul’s move amounted to failing to defend Ukraine’s liberty on Twitter.
“What amazes me is the amount of understanding @RandPaul brings for Putin, but not for defending #Ukraine’s liberty,” Scherba’s tweet read. “Liberty – does it ring a bell? You sure you’re “libertarian conservative” & not putinterian conservative? #StandWithUkraine #ArmUkraineNow”
Adequately defending Ukraine’s democracy, according to Scherba, requires America to undermine its own legislative procedures. With people like this at the helm, it’s no surprise Ukraine’s democracy has been in shambles for years.
But Paul, rather than upend all that is holy and good, is standing up to a Senate procedure that has been terribly abused. It is true that unanimous consent agreements are essential to ensuring the Senate’s business proceeds and have been used informally since the Founding era. The first formal unanimous consent agreement in 1846 to place an end date on the Senate’s debate on the ratification of the Oregon Treaty, however, set an unintended precedent. Senators agreed to Sen. William Allen of Ohio’s proposal for using unanimous consent to limit debate, “provided it was not to be regarded as establishing a precedent,” as then-Kentucky Sen. James Morehead said.
While unanimous consent agreements continued to be used after 1846, when Lyndon B. Johnson became Senate Majority Leader in 1957, he saw unanimous consent agreements as a means to strengthen his majority’s hand by micro-managing the entire legislative process.
This is the legislative environment we find ourselves in today. Having the gaul to suggest the Senate goes about its normal order of business when it considers getting more involved in a conflict that has real potential to spiral out of control when the U.S. economy is in dire straits will get you called a Russian stooge. Another question: why aren’t more Republicans objecting to the Senate going about its business this way?
On Monday, the Senate, following typical procedures thanks to Paul, voted to advance the $40 billion aid package by a vote of 81 to 11. Was that hard, McConnell and Schumer? Paul was joined by ten of his Republican colleagues—such as Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, to name a few—in voting against advancing the bill. But, in all likelihood, the aid package will be ready for Biden’s signature by the end of the week.
Maybe Hahn has a point: The Senate is broken.