WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) went against both Republicans and Democrats on Thursday when he single-handedly delayed until next week Senate approval of a massive $40 billion aid package for Ukraine while the beleaguered eastern European country is enduring the third month of its unprovoked invasion by Russia.
The legislation for the aid package – supported by both Democrats and Republicans, and backed by President Joe Biden – had passed easily in the House Tuesday on a vote of 368-57, and is expected to pass in the Senate with strong bipartisan support, despite Rand’s last-minute opposition temporarily serving as a roadblock for the unanimous agreement the measure needs to go forward.
Paul, a libertarian, is known for being against foreign interventions by the United States, and said his hold-up was so that language could be inserted into the bill so that an inspector general could be appointed to keep track of how the funds in the Ukrainian aid package would be spent.
In addition, Paul was critical that the $40 billion being offered to Ukraine is significantly more than the U.S. spends on many domestic programs, and expressed concerns that such a large giveaway of funds would only serve to worsen federal deficits and inflation.
“No matter how sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security of the United States of America,” Paul said. “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy.”
Paul’s opposition flies in the face of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said before Thursday’s vote that senators from “both sides” of the political aisle – Democrats and Republicans – needed to come together to “help us pass this urgent funding bill today.”
“They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged invasion. And they need this help right now,” McConnell said. “Helping Ukraine is not an instance of mere philanthropy. It bears directly on America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression not succeed and carries significant costs.”
Despite Paul’s delay, the legislation for the Ukrainian aid package is expected to pass next week.