Upping the ante in his bid to cut off U.S. aid to Pakistan, Sen. Rand Paul is holding up a vote on an unrelated and otherwise noncontroversial judicial nominee.
The Kentucky Republican has been pushing for a Senate vote to terminate all aid to Pakistan unless authorities there release Dr. Shakil Afridi, who provided information that helped lead to the successful raid on 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 on charges related to 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 next week if he does not receive a satisfactory answer to his inquiry.
“We requested this information from President 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.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has shown no inclination to allow Paul to get his desired floor vote since Paul first signaled his intent to seek the vote in a July 12 letter to the Senate leaders.
Paul is responding by making life more difficult for Reid. 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.
Shipp’s nomination previously faced a delay as part of a disagreement between the White House and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) about a separate judicial nominee from New Jersey, local media outlets reported at the time.
The Shipp nomination has faced minimal opposition. Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee was the lone lawmaker registering opposition at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.