Paul threatens delay on defense bill

According to The Washington Post, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has threatened to delay Senate debate on an essential defense bill.

Paul wants to force the Senate to pass a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF). He also wants the capproved within six months.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have also pressed Congress for a new AUMF. However, their preference is to draft the AUMF in the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who chairs that committee, has promised to schedule a debate on the AUMF.

However, that is not sufficient for Paul. On Monday night, he said he would “sit on the floor, in silent protest . . . for as long as needed to ensure Congress do its duty, and vote on ending these wars.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has apparently given Paul four hours on Tuesday to lay out his position to the Senate.

While it is unlikely that Paul can singlehandedly prevent the bill’s passage, he might cause problems for other senators who had hoped to attach high-profile, bipartisan amendments to the bill.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) hope to attach an amendment that would overturn President Trump’s ban on transgender troops.

Sens. Corey Gardner (R-Colo.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) have drafted an amendment that would impose a trade embargo on goods from North Korea and punish firms that continue to do business with the rogue state.

However, political observers note that these amendments might not come up for a vote even if Paul refrains from his protest. The bill is under the jurisdiction of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain has not come out in support of any proposed amendments to the bill.

Both McCain and Corker were critical of the North Korea amendment. McCain also criticized the timing of the Gillibrand-Collins amendment, because Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not completed his review of transgendered troops.

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