President Biden’s push to pass an emergency military and humanitarian aid package to Ukraine hit a wall in the evenly split Senate on Thursday.
Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, is refusing to agree to expedite consideration of the bill over concerns there is insufficient oversight and transparency into how the money is being spent.
“I think a lot of [senators] are favorably inclined that an inspector general would help watch over the money to make sure it’s not it’s being stolen,” Mr. Paul said. “This really needs to be part of this bill.”
Mr. Paul, in particular, is demanding that Senate Democrats agree to hold a vote on an amendment creating a special inspector general to oversee the disbursal of aid to Ukraine. Proponents say that the amendment should pass via a simple majority.
“I really want to help the Ukrainian people, I think they’re fighting for all freedom-loving Americans,” said Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican. “But this is hard-earned taxpayer money.”
Despite authoring the amendment creating an inspector general, Mr. Kennedy does not agree with Mr. Paul’s refusal to expedite consideration of the package. Instead, he said there were other ways to ensure transparency without delaying the aid.
“I don’t want to do anything that will prevent this badly needed aid from going out,” said Mr. Kennedy. “I would rather do this a stand-alone provision, rather than amendment which will have to go back to the House for approval.
Mr. Paul said that he is unwilling to compromise, however.
“It just needs to be in the bill, such promises are kind of vague around here for other bills,” he said.
Given that there are more than 10 Republicans, willing to vote with all 50 Senate Democrats to break a filibuster on the measure, Mr. Paul does not have enough support to kill the bill without an amendment creating an inspector.
Instead, the libertarian-leaning lawmaker is using an arsenal of legislative procedures to delay consideration of the package.
Within the Senate, unanimous consent is needed to expedite consideration of a bill, meaning that all 100 senators must agree on moving forward.
Generally, Senate leaders negotiate the number of amendments and time allotted for debate before unanimous consent is offered. If even one lawmaker objects, the process is sidelined and normal order must be followed.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer argued that allowing a vote on an amendment is not optimal given that the House has already passed the aid bill.
“We have a moral obligation to act and to act swiftly,” the New York Democrat said. “The house already passed the Ukraine package with overwhelming bipartisan support. It should be no different here in the Senate.”