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Sen. Paul blocks effort to pass $40 billion Ukraine aid bill

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Sen. Rand Paul (File photo)

US Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has blocked bipartisan efforts to pass nearly $40 billion in Ukraine military aid, demanding changes to the bill.

The US House Tuesday passed the package, sending the bill to the Senate for a vote. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to press for swift passage of the legislation but their effort was stymied by Paul.

Paul is demanding that the bill be changed to require an inspector general to oversee how the Ukraine military aid is spent.

Members from both parties broadly agree with that notion, but forcing an alteration to the bill at this stage would be very time consuming.

McConnell and Schumer both offered to allow a vote on Paul's amendment, but he insisted it be added to the underlying legislation.

Paul wants his language inserted into the text of the legislation instead of having to take his chance with an amendment vote, which could be blocked.

In his remarks, he said, "We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the US economy."

Schumer responded that "it's clear from the junior senator from Kentucky's remarks he doesn't want to aid Ukraine."

Schumer pleaded for fast action, saying, "The package is ready to go, the vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it."

"If Senator Paul persists in his reckless demands ... all he will accomplish with his actions here today is to delay that aid. Not to stop it."

But Paul was not moved. His objection will delay the Senate’s passage of the package until at least next week, and potentially beyond.

“I think they’re going to have to go through the long way,” Paul told The Hill about what comes next after the floor standoff.

Unless he agrees, the Senate must follow a lengthy process stipulated by the chamber's arcane rules.

"We should vote on Senator Paul's amendment, and then we should pass the supplemental and we should do it today," McConnell added.

However, Paul warned about the pace of spending, saying, “Americans are feeling the pain [from inflation] and Congress seems intent only on adding to that pain by shoveling more money out the door as fast as they can.”

This comes as the United States is facing “a massive baby formula shortage” among other economic woes like rising inflation and gas prices.

The US has already delivered $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Biden’s term in office, though much of that aid has come since Russia’s military operation against Ukraine began in late February.

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