Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) long-shot bid to cut off U.S. aid to Pakistan may appear quixotic, but the House is already moving in his direction.
A skeptic of foreign aid, Paul has cited the current budget deficit when criticizing giving additional money to the country.
“We’re rewarding bad behavior with more money, with more of your money, money we don’t even have,” Paul said. “We have a $1 trillion deficit and we’re giving them an extra $1 billion.”
Senate leaders have resisted repeated efforts by Paul to hold a vote on his proposal to block any foreign assistance to the country over the imprisonment of Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor behind a CIA-backed vaccine clinic that was designed to gather DNA samples from people in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Paul said Thursday that he is seeking information on why a judicial panel in Pakistan delayed Afridi’s appeal of his conviction related to the assistance he provided to the CIA. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Paul announced his intention to stall Senate business in a floor speech, also pledging to push ahead with forcing a vote on his proposal this week if he does not receive a satisfactory answer to his inquiry.
“We requested this information from President [Barack] Obama’s administration, from his State Department: Will Dr. Afridi get a trial? When will the trial be? We’ve gotten no answer,” Paul said.
“If we can’t get an answer on this, if they’re going to continue to hold this man, I see no reason to send taxpayer money to Pakistan,” Paul added. “I have the votes and the ability to force a vote on this issue.”
Paul has gathered the signatures needed to file his own cloture motion to limit debate on taking up a standalone version of his Pakistani aid prohibition bill after trying unsuccessfully to attach it as an amendment to a few unrelated pieces of legislation.
The unusual move would at least give Paul his vote, if he gets recognized on the floor to make his motion.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has shown no inclination to allow Paul to get that vote at any point since Paul signaled his intent to seek it in a July 12 letter to the Senate leaders.
“We have, for example, one Republican Senator, when we are in tense negotiations with Pakistan on a lot of very sensitive issues, who wants to do something that is outside the scope of rational thinking, which holds up legislation,” Reid said last week.
Paul is responding by making life more difficult for the Nevada Democrat. Democratic aides said the Kentucky Republican would not consent to allowing an up-or-down vote to confirm Michael Shipp, a federal magistrate in New Jersey, to be a federal district judge in the state. Instead, Reid set up a Monday evening cloture vote on the nomination.
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