Rand Paul Asks, Does a $20 Trillion Debt Make Us a Stronger Country?

By Susan Jones | February 9, 2018 | 6:58am EST
Sen. Rand Paul rails against wasteful spending on the Senate floor ahead of the vote on a two-year budget deal, which he opposed. (Photo: C-SPAN screen grab)

(CNSNews.com) - "Yes, I want a strong national defense," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted early Friday morning, ahead of the Senate vote on a deficit- and debt-stoking budget bill. "I believe it's actually the most important thing the federal government does. But you have to ask yourself whether a $20 trillion debt makes us a stronger country or a weaker country."

Denied the opportunity to amend the budget bill in a way that would keep the defense and non-defense spending caps in place, Paul delayed the Senate vote until 2 a.m. Friday -- forcing the federal government to technically shut down at midnight, when most Americans were sleeping.

Paul said he was standing up for fiscal responsibility.

“I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits,” Paul said on the Senate floor. "Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits." Paul said he couldn't just "look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits." He said both parties are to blame.

Later, Paul also tweeted his disapproval:

"Tonight, you could feel the frustration and embarrassment growing in Congress as we exposed the hypocrisy of Republicans who are joining in an unholy alliance and spending free-for-all with Democrats at the expense of the American people and our party’s supposed principles,"  he tweeted as the Senate started voting around 1:30 a.m.

"Make no mistake, I will always stand up for fiscal responsibility, regardless of which party is in power, and I will continue to call the Republican Party home to the ideas that led to Americans trusting us with government in the first place," Paul said in another early-morning tweet.

The Senate ended up passing the McConnell-Schumer compromise bill on a vote of 71-28. But it took the House several more hours to find enough votes to pass the bill, 240-186, thus guaranteeing an end to the five-hour, overnight shutdown.

Sixty-seven House Republicans voted against the bill, but enough Democrats --73-- voted in favor to overcome that gap.

The bill lifts the sequester spending caps on both defense and non-defense spending, setting topline budget targets that will add at least $298 billion to the deficit in the next two years. There's another $90 billion in disaster relief.

The bill also funds the government through March 23, giving Congress time to appropriate the money in yet another omnibus spending bill.

Many Republicans who voted for the bill said they did it for the sake of the military; Democrats, on the other hand, advocated increases in discretionary domestic spending.

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