Rand Paul Filibuster on Pakistan Aid Could Force Senate Into Overtime
By Lauren Fox for US News and World Report
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul could push the Senate’s session into the weekend if he doesn’t back off of a promise to filibuster all legislation as long as Senate leadership keeps a bill to stop sending aid to Pakistan off of the floor.
The obstruction is a replay of last week’s Senate session when Paul stood in the way of a veterans’ jobs bill in an effort to see his anti-Pakistani funding bill on the floor.
In a letter to his colleagues, Paul requested that his fellow lawmakers join his cause to stop backing Pakistan as long as the country keeps playing “both sides of some of the most important issues while openly thwarting our objectives in the region” and continues holding Shakil Afridi, the man who assisted the U.S. with its efforts to locate and kill Osama bin Laden.
“Dr. Afridi remains under arrest for his role in finding bin Laden, and no country that arrests a man for helping to find bin Laden is an ally of the United States,” Paul wrote in his letter. “If Pakistan wants to be our ally–and receive foreign aid for being one–then they should act like it, and they must start by releasing Dr. Afridi.”
This week, however, Paul has expanded his efforts.
After rebels seized the U.S. embassy in Egypt and Libyan rebels murdered four Americans including Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Paul is calling for a bill to halt funding to those nations as well.
“I urge you to take immediate action to pass a much-needed bill demanding cooperation and accountability from the countries involved in the recent violence directed at our embassies and consulates,” Paul wrote. “The bill should send a strong clear message to these entities: You do not get foreign aid unless you are an unwavering ally of the United States.”
Meanwhile, the White House has other plans to handle the attacks on the embassies in Egypt and Libya. Because the attackers were not affiliated with the government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will look to Congress to authorize more funding to support Egypt in its quest for democracy.
“Particularly in the light of this kind of extremist and spoiler activity…we think it is absolutely essential that we support those forces in Egypt who want to build a peaceful, stable, democratic country with prosperity restored, jobs for people,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday during a briefing. “And that’s what the assistance that the president has pledged and that we are working with the Hill on is for.”
Paul’s protest won’t endanger the Senate’s ability to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for another six months, but it could significantly affect the Senate’s ability to stay on schedule.
The House passed the stopgap measure 329 to 91, but Paul’s floor protest could push the Senate into a weekend session.