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Rand Paul: GOP Must See 'Immigrants as Assets, Not Liabilities'

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said Republicans should embrace immigrants to the United States and called for Washington, D.C., to curb spending in his tea party response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

As talk of immigration overhaul plans bubble to the surface and groups of lawmakers work in both chambers to come up with comprehensive legislation, Paul said Republicans should embrace immigrants.

“We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future,” he said. “We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities. We must be the party that says, ‘If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you.”

It is not a new idea from the libertarian-leaning senator, who has said in the past that he supports an eventual path to citizenship for those in the country illegally. But his comments do mark yet another high-profile stage on which immigration policy changes are touted, and they show that such a plan has a serious chance of passing the Senate.

Elsewhere in the speech, Paul touted libertarian principles and charged that Obama exceeds his rights in his use of executive power.

“We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it. We cannot and will not allow any president to act as if he were a king,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We will not let any president use executive orders to impinge on the Second Amendment. We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial.”

Paul tacked most closely to mainstream Republican talking points when speaking about fiscal issues. Budgets and the debt were a focal point of past tea party addresses. Last year’s was delivered by former presidential candidate Herman Cain; Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota delivered the rebuttal in 2011.

Paul called for compromise when it comes to spending cuts, including to both domestic and military spending. He said he will propose a budget that balances in five years.

“Both parties have been guilty of spending too much, of protecting their sacred cows, of backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every tax payer loses,” Paul said. “It is time for a new bipartisan consensus. It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.”

On that point, he added, the more than $1 trillion, 10-year cuts known as the sequester agreed to in the Budget Control Act should stand. In fact, Paul said, he would prefer at least $4 trillion in spending cuts.

“If Congress refuses to obey its own rules, if Congress refuses to pass a budget, if Congress refuses to read the bills, then I say: Sweep the place clean. Limit their terms and send them home,” he said.

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