That Tea Party extremist nut Rand Paul is at it again. First, he was the only U.S. Senator to openly speak out against renewal of the PATRIOT Act. Then he promised that it should it become necessary, he’d wage a filibuster to block SOPA. He raised holy hell about the NDAA.
Now the winger is trying to prevent a war with Iran or Syria.
Presidents of both parties, over the past several decades, have shown a willingness to interpret Senate resolutions in the broadest imaginable way when it comes to war, whether it’s to launch a 10-year land-war in Southeast Asia or Afghanistan, to torture detainees picked up in foreign countries or to eavesdrop without a warrant on American citizens.
This time around, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
The Senate is debating legislation that would impose strict sanctions on Iran, including penalizing U.S. companies whose subsidiaries have ties to the country.
The bill, S. Res. 380, would not explicitly allow war with Iran. But Paul, who has been a critic of U.S. involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, doesn’t want to take any chances. His amendment would make clear that nothing in the bill “shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of use of force against Iran or Syria.”
A single senator can wield serious influence in the Senate simply by refusing to go along, and Paul is willing to use it. In late March, Paul blocked the bipartisan Iran sanctions bill from coming to a vote, demanding consideration of his amendment. The House has already approved a version of the legislation. Moving forward would require coming to an agreement with Paul so that he lifts his objection, or getting 60 votes to bypass him, which would chew up several days of limited Senate floor time.
So far, only one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), has expressed interest in signing on as a cosponsor . . .
Fortunately, seasoned Washington veterans are around to tamp down Paul’s nutty crusades.
The effort to rally votes simply to clarify that the bill does not authorize war has been a frustrating one for Paul. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that the amendment wasn’t “helpful” at the moment.
“I just don’t think it would be helpful right now, frankly, to have that kind of a debate when you’re in the middle of negotiations, when you’re trying to send a bunch of other different kinds of messages, and when you don’t want to confuse the ability to bring people to the table and act in good faith,” he said. “When you start talking about war debate and strength debate, it’s a whole different climate. I don’t think it’s necessary.”
Thank goodness the Senate was full of people like Kerry back when Bush was in office, and not people like Paul. I mean, there may have actually been some debate over the PATRIOT Act. Or some attempt to be specific about what that authorization of war on terrorism did and didn’t allow the president to do.