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On Thursday, a bipartisan effort to facilitate the speedy passage of a $40 billion aid bill for Ukraine in the Senate was stymied by a Republican who has parroted Putin’s talking points and blamed President Joe Biden for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
Paul denied the leaders of both parties the unanimous consent needed to expeditiously debate and vote on the bill, which would send much-needed economic, humanitarian, and defense aid to Ukraine.
“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation,” Paul told his 3.8 million Twitter followers on Thursday evening, defending his opposition to the bill that had broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
"This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first," Paul said on the Senate floor. "Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending."
Paul went on to demand that the bill be amended to include language that would authorize the installation of an Inspector General to oversee the spending. However, this late change would be time-consuming, causing delays at a time when Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions face relentless Russian bombardments.
Exasperated, the Senate majority and minority leaders, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), offered to let senators vote on the amendment Paul proposed, which would need 60 votes to succeed, but Paul refused.
"If Senator Paul persists in his reckless demands ... all he will accomplish is to single-handedly delay desperately-needed Ukraine aid," Schumer railed against the lone holdout.
Indeed, the Kentuckian’s adamance delayed the bill's passage into next week, as the Senate must now take the lengthy procedural steps outlined in the chamber’s rules.
The delay could pose problems for a far-reaching Western effort to bolster Ukraine in its bid to fend off an aggressive Russia.
"Ukraine is not asking us to fight this war. They're only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged invasion. And they need this help right now," said McConnell, Paul's fellow senator from Kentucky.
Paul faced intense backlash for his unimpressive attempt at political theater, even from top Ukrainian government officials.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted, “We all saw a @CNN video where [Russian] soldiers shot civilians in the back just for fun. How many such crimes are happening at the moment in the east and south of? Price of delay per day – hundreds killed and raped. Price per week – thousands. Have a nice morning coffee, @RandPaul.”
“We could have already started using the new U.S. assistance package to more effectively save lives of Ukrainians who defend the democratic world,” tweeted Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kulbea, “and @RandPaul delayed so much needed support.”
Schumer further assailed Paul’s selfish demands in his floor speech. “The junior senator from Kentucky is preventing the swift passage of Ukraine aid because he wants to add at the last minute his own changes directly into the bill.”
“His change is strongly opposed by many members of both parties. He is not even asking for an amendment [vote]. He is simply saying my way or the highway,” he added.
Paul dismissed the collective rebuke in a Friday interview with a conservative radio talk show. “We don't need to be the sugar daddy and the policemen of the world that we have to do everything," he told the hosts.
The Ukraine aid package wasn’t the only bill Paul stalled on Thursday. He also blocked the Senate from passing a bill that would protect federal judges from harm by scrubbing their personal information from public records and databases, according to CNN.
His reason? The bill didn’t include similar protection for lawmakers.
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In a scathing rebuke to his former partner at the White House, former Vice President Mike Pence has announced plans to campaign with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on the eve of Georgia’s May 24 Republican primary.
Pence will headline Kemp’s election eve rally in defiance of former President Trump, who has repeatedly assailed the state governor for refusing to partake in a collective Trumpworld effort to subvert and overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
Pence called Kemp “one of the most successful conservative governors in America” in a statement and on Twitter.
"Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia,” Pence stated. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia.”
The endorsement, as US News put it, is the “ political equivalent of a raised middle finger” at Trump, who attacked the former VP repeatedly for certifying the results of the 2020 elections despite numerous calls from Trump and delusional far-right elements in his circle to overturn the elections.
"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution," Trump said in a tweet on January 6, 2021, shortly after Pence refused to overturn the election results and right as a pro-Trump mob was breaching the sacred halls of Congress.
Two months later, in an exclusive interview, Trump defended the rioters who called for Pence’s hanging. “No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape … because, uh, I heard he was in very good shape,” he said.
In February, Pence refuted Trump, saying the former president was “wrong” in alleging that then-Vice President Pence had the sole power to overturn the 2020 election results.
A month after that, Pence came swinging again — this time, at Trump and the Russia-loving arm of the Republican party. “There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said at a Republican National Committee retreat.
Prominent Republicans have endorsed candidates who Trump opposes, but Pence, who might be the most prominent of the group, has shown his willingness to buck the former president and his political ambitions.
Still angered by the stinging loss to the then-Democrat candidate for president Joe Biden, Trump has doled endorsements to his loyalists and attacked those who refused to parrot the Big Lie.
Trump has campaigned, raised money, and ran TV attack ads for Kemp’s opponent, former Senator David Perdue, who has long since pledged allegiance to Trump and his false claims of widespread voter fraud.
However, Kemp remains the strong favorite in polls, leading Perdue by an average of 22.3 percentage points in the hotly-contested primary. Leading GOP members are confident Kemp will win 50 percent of the vote to bypass a run-off with Perdue, per Politico.
Despite commanding the increasingly vocal MAGA wing of the GOP, Trump has endorsed some candidates who eventually failed to win their primaries. Last week Charles Herbster, the GOP candidate Trump endorsed in Nebraska’s governorship race, lost to a candidate endorsed by the state’s governor.