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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blamed Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for holding up amendments to the defense authorization bill, crippling the ability of senators to offer amendments in advance of a Monday evening test vote.
Paul’s office was quick to issue a denial, but McCain said that Paul’s actions could give fodder to those trying to rewrite the Senate’s rules in January.
“I find it disappointing that one member of the United States Senate feels that his particular agenda is so important that it affects the lives and the readiness and the capabilities of the men and women who are serving in the military and our ability to defend this nation,” McCain said. “I think it’s hard to answer to the men and women in the military ... with this kind of behavior, but I will leave that up to the senator from Kentucky to do so.”
A Paul spokeswoman said that her boss was not delaying consideration of a manager’s package of amendments cleared on both sides and that, moreover, there were no specific objections from Paul’s office as of mid-afternoon on Monday. On the floor, McCain said that the “Senator from Kentucky” gave notice that he would object to any unanimous consent requests or votes, a stance that would prevent the Senate from adopting the manager’s package and any other miscellaneous amendments. McCain later confirmed to CQ Roll Call that he was referring to Paul when he spoke.
The denial from Paul’s spokeswoman came after reaching Paul, who was apparently on a plane when McCain made his remarks on the floor. During his floor statement, McCain made plain his disdain for the maneuver that he attributed to Paul.
McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has made no secret that he and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., sought to use the defense bill (S 3254) as positive example of how the Senate can work on a bipartisan basis, even without adopting a series of rules changes next year.
“I again apologize for what seems to have happened, and much to my dismay, it lends some credence ... to the argument that maybe we ought not to do business the way that we are doing here in the United States Senate,” a frustrated McCain said.
Frank Oliveri contributed to this report.