Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday blocked a bill to provide Ukraine with $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid, CNN reports.
The House overwhelmingly passed the bill earlier this week and the Senate sought to approve the legislation by unanimous consent but Paul was the lone objector, delaying the vote until next week even as the State and Defense Departments warned that authorized aid for Ukraine was set to run out by next week.
Paul demanded that the bill be rewritten to include a special inspector general to oversee the aid which Senate leaders rejected because it would require them sending the bill back to the House. Senate leaders offered Paul a separate vote on his amendment which he rejected.
“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation. Congress is trying yet again to ram through a spending bill – one that I doubt anyone has actually read – and there’s no oversight included into how the money is being spent,” he said on Twitter. “All I requested is an amendment to be included in the final bill that allows for the Inspector General to oversee how funds are spent. Anyone who is opposed to this is irresponsible.”
Both Senate leaders slam:
"The package is ready to go," Senate Majority Leader Chuck 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."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also called out Paul over the delay.
"We should vote on Senator Paul's amendment, and then we should pass the supplemental and we should do it today," he said.
Only days left of aid:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that there is only days left until existing aid expires.
“In short, we need your help. The ability to draw upon existing DoD [Department of Defense] stocks has been a critical tool in our efforts to support the Ukrainians in their fight against Russian aggression, allowing us to quickly source equipment and ensure a sustained flow of security assistance to Ukraine,” the officials wrote.
“As a result, we urge you to act quickly on the Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations, including the authorization of additional funding for drawdowns,” they continued. “Doing so before May 19, 2022 will allow us to provide uninterrupted critical military support to our Ukrainian partners.”