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Rand Paul Holds Up Senate Action Over Detainees in Egypt

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is delaying the confirmation of Adalberto Jose Jordan to join the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as well as a transportation bill in an effort to force Senate leaders to schedule a vote on his proposal to cut off aid to Egypt until Americans being held there are released. 

The Senate voted 89 to 5 to end debate on Jordan’s nomination and now the Senate must wait 30 hours before voting to confirm Jordan, as Paul has made it known that he would object to anyone seeking to shorten the post-cloture period.

Senate Democratic leadership aides said talks with Paul are ongoing in an effort to work out a deal.

But if no agreement is reached, the vote would take place Wednesday morning, forcing the Senate to waste up to two days and halting progress on a surface transportation bill currently on the floor.

“What’s happened on the Senate floor tonight is just ridiculous,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We are supposed to be on a highway bill, a bill that will protect 1.8 million jobs and create” more.

Just before the Senate adjourned for the evening, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), in announcing the Senate’s business for Tuesday, said Democrats expect Jordan to be confirmed Tuesday.

There are about 20 Americans among 43 individuals who are accused by Egyptian authorities of illegally receiving foreign money in a case against nongovernmental organizations that have pushed for democratic reform in Egypt. The case has strained relations between the two nations.

Paul wants to use the $1.3 billion a year the United States provides to Egypt in aid as an incentive for the Egyptian authorities to release the Americans.

The move pits Paul against fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who wants Jordan confirmed to the appeals court.

If confirmed, Jordan would become the first Cuban-American to sit on the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Rubio is also of Cuban descent.

“In filibustering Jordan’s historic nomination all these months, the GOP is pointedly ignoring the glowing endorsement of one of its own Members, Sen. Marco Rubio, and the support of Florida’s Cuban-American community, for whom this nomination is a historic first,” said Marge Baker of the liberal People for the American Way. “This is a party that is putting gridlock above all else — and the American people are noticing.”

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