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Paul Holding Up Spending Bill Over Refugee Welfare

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he won’t allow a transportation and housing spending bill through quickly without a vote about Syrian refugees, likely halting final passage until after Thanksgiving.  

In a statement, Paul called it “an outrage” that Senate leadership filed cloture on the bill without his amendment regarding welfare for new refugees, and he promised he “will not back down.” “I will use all available Senate rules and procedures to force them to use all possible time,” Paul said in a statement.  

On the floor, Paul blocked consideration of amendments unless he could get a vote on an amendment designed to block federal benefits for any arriving refugees. Paul said his amendment is germane to the underlying spending bill pertaining to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  

“I have an amendment that is not only pertinent to the biggest issue of the day, I have an amendment that is germane,” Paul said on the floor. “For those who make a mockery of this process by saying we’re going to have regular order, we’re not going to have regular order.”  

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has objected to Paul’s requests to get his amendment in the queue. Collins is the chairwoman of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee and is managing floor debate on the bill. The standoff with Paul makes it unlikely the bill will pass the Senate before Thanksgiving recess.  

“We’ve encountered a road block,” Collins said, adding that even amendments which have been cleared on both sides of the aisle are “not being allowed to proceed.”  

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the Appropriations subcommittee ranking member, spoke on the floor after Collins. “We still are going to continue to work,” he said. “Unfortunately we have hit this bump, but we are still going down the road.”  

Paul said he wanted an amendment placed in the queue for a vote that “lets the American people vote on whether or not we want to bring more people here from the Middle East.” He added that until he’s allowed a “vote for which I think the American people are clamoring for, I will continue to object.”  

It’s the latest effort by a presidential hopeful on the Republican side to engage on the issue of the refugee population after last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.  

“My amendment says this, that we’re not going to bring them here and put them on government assistance,” Paul said when he introduced the amendment Wednesday.  

Anne L. Kim and Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this report.

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