Rand Paul supports adding to the national debt if it also means slashing the tax rate for corporate America. If it means paying for health care for ailing 9/11 first responders? That, the Republican from Kentucky has decided, is when enough if enough.
On Wednesday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) asked the Senate for unanimous consent to reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which offers compensation to 9/11 survivors and first responders who have filed claims relating to various health problems they have experienced as a result of the attacks. Paul objected, citing the the rising national deficit and saying the spending should be offset by cuts elsewhere.
“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country,” he said. “We have a $22 trillion debt. We’re adding debt at about $1 trillion a year. Therefore, any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that is going to have the longevity of 70 or 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that is less valuable. We should at least be having this debate.”
Paul’s objection forces the Senate to go through more procedural steps and votes to pass the compensation bill, but it appears the measure will still ultimately pass. A statement from Paul’s staff said his plan is not ultimately to block the aid, but to make sure it’s offset by spending cuts elsewhere.
“Senator Paul is not blocking anything. He is simply seeking to pay for it. As with any bill, Senator Paul always believes it needs to be paid for. Senator Paul is simply offering an amendment, which other senators support, to pay for this legislation,” the statement read.
In 2017, Paul voted in favor of Trump’s tax bill, which disproportionately benefitted the wealthiest Americans and cut the corporate tax rate nearly in half, from 35% to 21%. The Congressional Budget Office projects that bill will add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over a decade.
BREAKING: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has blocked an attempt to pass an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, pointing to the country's growing debt and arguing that any new spending should be offset by cuts to other spending. (via @thehill) https://t.co/VGGoALb9qV pic.twitter.com/xQGCcZupjg
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) July 17, 2019
Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelming passed the bill to reauthorize the fund. The need to do so was drawn into the mainstream last month when former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, backed by first responders, delivered an emotional, tear-filled plea in front of the House Judiciary Committee. A few days later, Stewart went on Fox News to attack Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his indifference toward reauthorizing the fund, which is now co-sponsored by 73 of 100 senators.
Paul is not among them.