Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., stormed out of a Homeland Security Committee hearing on Wednesday, proposing that every Republican walk out of the session after Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., blocked any Republican change to the Fire Grants and Safety Act had.
Peters offered an amendment to the legislation, but Paul insisted that he had already offered a second-degree amendment and therefore another could not be put forward. “We have what, second degree final amendments?” said the Republican senator. Peters then suggested that Paul had no authority to call an amendment to a vote.
“If that’s how you want to run the committee, I would suggest the Republicans go. I don’t see why we should stay if you make the rules. I mean, you’re going to offer a third degree amendment,” Paul explained during the hearing.
After Paul proposed a strike, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., chimed in, encouraging everyone to “take a few minutes, bring the temperature down, just figure out the procedure” after the heated debate.
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“We don’t have to turn this committee hearing into some partisan, ugly place like we’ve seen other committees do. We don’t have to do that,” Sinema demanded.
Paul continued to debate Peter’s efforts to make a secondary change. “For my part, I’m not going to stay here and am recommending that no Republican stay here when we have third-degree amendments that only the majority can offer,” he said.
Paul’s frustration arose after he introduced several amendments to the bill, which Peters fought with secondary amendments, which are essentially an amendment amendment. The Republican noted that the hearing is the first time “we’ve received second-degree amendments to each of our amendments.”
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“Usually we only have votes on this committee,” Paul expressed his frustration. “If we can’t work it out behind the scenes, we have a voice and we’re not substituting for anyone’s voice.”
Paul introduced an amendment to not qualify for federal grants any fire department that has fired employees for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. Peters contested his proposal by including language that would require audits and reports by US auditors on the departments that were denied federal funds. The amended amendment received unanimous support from Democrats, with all Republicans voting against the new language.
Peters then intervened in another amendment by Paul that would prevent the National Institutes of Health from funding “gain of function” research on coronaviruses in Wuhan, China, and in other laboratories. The Democrat suggested the language instead say that funds from the Fire Grants and Safety Act “shall not be made available to any Chinese fire department.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Paul added after the second-degree change. “This is legislative sleight of hand to cover up the fact that you are trying not to vote on it directly.”
After the debate, Peters said he hoped to find “common ground” with the Kentucky senator.
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“I look forward to working with Senator Paul and hope we find common ground to move forward. Some of the changes he proposed were not relevant to the substance of the bill we were looking at,” Peters said.
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