Paging Rene Boucher
The top Democrat and Republican in the US Senate joined forces in a rare moment of unity on Thursday in an attempt to pass $40bn in aid for Ukraine, only to be stymied by a single Republican lawmaker: the Kentucky libertarian Rand Paul.
Faced with the prospect of an extended delay for the package that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, sought to move forward on the aid package only to be blocked by Paul, a fiscal hawk who objects to the amount of spending proposed.
The stalemate delayed passage of the measure into next week. The Senate has scheduled an initial procedural vote on the bill for late Monday afternoon.
The change Paul is seeking would create a special inspector general to oversee how the Ukraine military aid is spent. Members from both parties broadly agree with that notion, but forcing a change to the bill at this stage would be very time consuming and would slow getting the needed aid to Ukraine.
“The package is ready to go,” Schumer said. “The vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it. There’s now only one thing holding us back the junior senator from Kentucky is preventing swift passage of Ukraine aid because he wants to add at the last minute his own changes directly into the bill. His change is strongly opposed by many members of both parties.”
Schumer responded that “it’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks he doesn’t want to aid Ukraine.” “That is not the case for the overwhelming majority here,” Schumer said. “Again all he will accomplish with his actions here today is to delay that aid. Not to stop it.”