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Foreign Aid Vote Could Disrupt Senate Recess

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Rand Paul has threatened to keep the Senate in session through Sunday unless he gets a vote on his amendment to cut off foreign aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.

With lawmakers eager to hit the campaign trail, Senate Democratic leaders struggled this evening to strike a deal with Republicans to expedite the passage of a stopgap spending bill to fund the government through March.

After agreeing to hold a vote on Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) proposal to cut off certain foreign aid, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) encountered an objection from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who said the amendment needed more debate time than the hour that was being offered. McCain also sought to offer his own foreign aid proposal, saying he feared for the "safety and security" of U.S. diplomatic personnel if Paul's amendment were adopted.

Paul had threatened to keep the Senate in session through Sunday unless he got a vote on his amendment to cut off foreign aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.

Earlier today, Reid told reporters, "I've had conversations with Rand Paul last night and today. I have had conversations with the Republican leader, Republican Senators and my own Senators. And we're working our way through that now. We don't have a direct path, but we're working on it."

The House passed the continuing resolution last week, and if it is altered in the Senate, the measure would have to go back to the House for its approval.

The back-and-forth threatened to keep the Senate in session until Sunday, when the final passage vote on the CR would occur if all 100 Senators did not give unanimous consent to hold it earlier. However, it appeared by this evening that - despite the partisan sniping - a time agreement was within reach.

But at the end of this evening's session no agreement was reached.

Reid had told reporters today that he would give Paul a vote but that GOP leaders also had input in the decision.  

"If it's up to me and my Democrats, the answer is yes, but it's up to the Republicans," Reid said when asked whether he would allow Paul's amendment.

Though McCain later emerged as a roadblock to the deal to vote on the Paul amendment, a GOP aide had disputed Reid's claim that Republicans were holding up any decision on the issue.

"The Majority Leader has blocked this proposal for months. He's bluffing," the aide said.

But GOP foreign policy hawks such as McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham have not exactly kept their disdain for the measure a secret.

"When they write the history of these times, I am not going to be part of a Congress that cut ties with the world at a time when it mattered to be involved," the South Carolina Republican said Wednesday.

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