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Paul: Senate Leadership Must Focus on Debt Ceiling

At the demand of Senate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) canceled the scheduled Independence Day recess to address the impending debt crisis that is threatening the future of our economy.

Reid justified his actions by stating that the chamber has “work to do.” According to him, this recess was canceled to discuss the debt ceiling, yet I am now under the impression that this session has been scheduled for antics rather than legislative discussion and debates on the debt ceiling.

After announcing the postponement of the recess because of the economic emergency, the Democratic leadership promptly scheduled discussion of a Libya resolution — a debate that should’ve taken place 90 days ago. The resolution on Libya is not the task for this week that I, nor the American people, had in mind. It is time to end the antics by bringing debt ceiling negotiations to the Senate floor and getting the job done.

On Tuesday, Reid once again acceded to the demands of Senate Republicans and pulled the vote on Libya, stating his intention to focus on the debt as we requested. The problem now is in his solution.

Senate Democrats have put forward S. 1323, a Sense of the Senate that the debt crisis can be solved by raising taxes. This is not a serious proposal for many reasons, mostly because I’m afraid Senate Democrats are not serious on this matter.

We have not had one minute of committee hearings or floor debate on the debt ceiling and budgets in my six months here. We have not seen any sort of budget proposal in two years, and it has been almost 800 days since the Senate has passed a budget under this Democratic leadership.

The Aug. 2 deadline is rapidly approaching, the recess has been postponed and yet the Democratic leadership has not scheduled any discussion on the matter of the debt ceiling. We have spent month after month debating bills that have nothing to do with our substantial economic endangerment. Political tactics of avoidance have been exuberated time and time again by the Democratic leadership and I am tired of it. We have no business discussing anything other than the most pertinent issue.

I believe the Senate has missed the boat on discussing the mission in Libya. This is a discussion the chamber should have had 90 days ago. Last month the Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s Libyan mission. Based on this rejection, it is clear that he does not have authority to wage hostilities in Libya, and now it is time we insist on discussing America’s current, unsustainable budgetary policies. We must stop wasting time.

America is facing an astonishing fiscal crisis, and the Senate has not shown any signs of confronting it. Our nation is hovering around $14 trillion worth of debt, we borrow 40 cents of every dollar spent, and our unemployment rate is steadily increasing, yet what has the Democrat-led Senate done to tackle these signs of economic peril?

I am dumbfounded by this leadership; for here we are, weeks away from our debt limit deadline, and neither Obama nor the Democratic leadership has done anything other than provide empty promises.

I am not going to let this issue fall to the back burner for a rushed vote on Aug. 2. The president has neglected to provide a substantial plan and expects to send a last-minute deal to Congress with the threat of a deadline. This will evoke panic, leaving lawmakers with little time to review, discuss and amend such an important piece of legislation.

Republicans have serious proposals. Many of us are supporting a Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge in which we will agree to raise the debt limit if, and only if, short-term cuts, long-term spending caps and a balanced budget amendment are all passed first.

Time is short. But that is the fault of Senate Democrats who have done absolutely nothing on this matter all year. We can still avert this debt crisis, but only if the other side gets serious.

Rand Paul is a freshman Republican Senator from Kentucky.

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