Senator Rand Paul has a point, and Congress needs to be on record
On Wednesday, the House passed the $40-plus billion for Ukraine bill. In a separate article, I reviewed what is covered in H.R. 7691, the $40 billion for Ukraine bill. Senator Rand Paul (R- Accountability Czar) has delayed a final vote on the bill at least until sometime next week. So…what happened? It’s a little complicated but, when you understand the procedure, you can see what a service Rand Paul is performing for Americans.
On Thursday, several things happened in the Senate regarding the funding bill. Senator John Kennedy (R. LA) put forward a second bill to appoint an Inspector General and Sen. Paul proposed a similar amendment. Schumer proposed that the Senate consider and vote on S. 4190, Senator Kennedy’s bill requiring Ukraine oversight. He also proposed considering and voting on Senator Paul’s amendment. Finally, he proposed that the bill be passed and any motions to reconsider be tabled.
Senator Paul followed with an impassioned plea (video here) that the Senate discuss the bill. He provided perspective on the total of $60 billion in funding provided to Ukraine since 2014. Paul asked Schumer to simply incorporate his amendment into the bill, then vote on it. It is a short speech worth watching:
Schumer said no and accused Paul of not wanting to aid Ukraine.
Then, Senator Schumer, with the full concurrence of Senator McConnell, made a long-winded series of proposals (Congressional Record starting on page 2,480). Senator Schumer concluded his harangue by saying “If Senator Paul persists in his reckless demand, we will not allow him to insert his language into this bill without a vote, and all he will accomplish is to singlehandedly delay desperately needed Ukraine aid.”
What is all this procedural maneuvering about?
So far, during the 117th Congress, the President has signed S. 1605, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, providing $300,000,000 to Ukraine this year. Likewise, the President signed H.R. 2471, Making consolidated appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, and for providing emergency assistance for the situation in Ukraine, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2471 authorizes $14-plus billion through several federal agencies—Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Justice, State, Treasury, USAID—including $6.5-plus billion via the President. In addition, this bill allows the unlimited transfer of excess DOD articles for which we’ve already paid. There also is authorized $4 billion in direct loans and another $4 billion in loan guarantees.
H.R. 7691, the most recently proposed Senate spending bill, provides $40-plus billion through the same hands plus DHHS and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with much of it falling into the same categories as the bill passed two months ago. Both H.S. 2471 and H.R. 7691 fund State and USAID IGs and direct DOD IG activities. Cabinet secretaries are required to provide Congress with plans for expenditures before approval, as well as periodic reporting. Both bills direct a massive chunk of funds through the Office of the President.
Biden also signed S. 3522, Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. This bill includes a waiver of the five-year limit on such articles as well as a waiver for repayment for loss of the items. So, we’ve lots of funding and stuff headed Ukraine’s way.
As a former bureaucrat, I can tell you most of this assistance and funding is still waiting to be sent or spent. There is no immediacy to very much of this new funding. The issues, and the amounts presented, are worthy of a thorough consideration by our elected representatives. A few extra days or a couple of weeks processing this bill will make no appreciable difference.
S. 4190, the Independent and Objective Oversight of Ukrainian Assistance Act that Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) proposed, calls for the appointment of a Special IG to oversee the use of funds authorized by the 117th Congress for Ukraine. Although Senator Schumer called for Kennedy’s bill to be passed before passing the funding bill, he knows full well that later the President may simply veto the Kennedy bill, with the Senate deciding not to pursue overturning such a veto.
Senator Paul wants something different. He wants to amend the currently pending $40-plus billion spending bill to incorporate into the Special IG demand by expanding the authority of the current Special IG for Afghanistan. (He says, so far, that IG has done a good job.),
Senator Paul’s amendment largely parallels Senator Kennedy’s bill. However, by insisting that his bill be included in the funding bill, rather than being a stand-alone bill, Rand Paul is calling for clear governmental accountability for these funds. He is forcing the Senators to be transparent with their constituents regarding their intentions. Should he prevail and the bill be amended, it will have to go back to the House for an eventual revote. This will force those members, as well, to also take a stand on clarity in the use of public monies.
Paul has given the Senate a tremendous opportunity for discussing publicly the benefits of this bill. This way the electorate and the taxpayers have the possibility to understand clearly what is going on with this money. In such a contentious election year as this one is turning out to be, Senator Paul has embarked on a noble cause. Let’s give this prudent man our support and pay attention to how well our representatives then represent us.
Anony Mee is the nom de blog of a retired public servant.
Image: Rand Paul’s speech. YouTube screen grab.