U.S. Senator Rand Paul delivered the following remarks on the U.S. Senate floor today regarding his opposition to the two-year federal budget agreement.
For a point of clarification: after Sen. Paul announced his filibuster of the debt bill earlier this week, Senate Leadership moved to end the filibuster by filing cloture. Cloture is the mechanism in the rules to end debate, and thus end a filibuster. If 41 Senators vote with Sen. Paul, the filibuster will continue.
Sen. Rand Paul: I rise today in opposition to raising the debt ceiling. I rise in particular in opposition to raising the debt ceiling without getting any sort of spending reform or budgetary reform in return. In fact, it will be completely the opposite. We will be raising the debt ceiling in an unlimited fashion. We will be giving President Obama a free pass to borrow as much money as he can borrow in the last year of his office. No limit, no dollar limit. Here you go, President Obama. Spend what you want.
We do this while also exceeding what are called budget caps. We have been trying to have spending restraint in Washington. It hasn’t worked very well, but at least there are some numbers that government is not supposed to exceed. These include spending caps for military spending as well as domestic spending. When I first arrived, I was part of a movement called the tea party movement. We came into prominence and I was elected primarily because I was concerned about the debt, worried about the debt that we were leaving to our kids and our grandkids, worrying that we were destroying the very fabric of the country with debt.
We came here in 2010 and we negotiated and negotiated, and the president said, President Obama said I won’t negotiate with you. He says I won’t negotiate with a gun to my head. The media all said you just always have to raise the debt ceiling. It’s irresponsible to use that as leverage to get reform. But you know what? We did get reform. The conservatives put forward something called Cut, Cap, and Balance. It was passed overwhelmingly in the House, blocked in the Senate, but ultimately there was something passed called sequestration, which put caps on both military and domestic spending. And it did slow down the rate of growth of government for a little while.
This is the problem with Congress. Congress will occasionally do something in the right direction, and then they take one step forward and two steps back. In 2013, we gave up on this sequestration when we added back in about $60 billion worth of money. Now we’re doing the same thing again. We’re going to add back in this time $80 billion, $50 billion in 2016, another $30 billion in 2017. We’re doing the opposite of what we should be doing.
We should be using the leverage of the debt ceiling, saying we’re not raising it again until you reform your ways, until you begin spending only money you have. Instead, we’re doing the opposite. We’re saying here, Mr. President, you can raise the debt as much as you want. You can spend as much as you want while you’re in office, and we’re going to do nothing. In fact, we’re going to help you. We’re going to exceed the caps so everybody gets what they want. So everyone in Washington’s is going to get something.
The right’s going to get more military money, the left’s going to get more welfare money. The secret handshake goes on, and the American public gets stuck with the bill. Now, I think one of the most important things we do is defend the country. If you ask me to prioritize it’s spending, I would say we have to defend the country above and beyond and before all else. But that doesn’t mean we’re stronger or safer if we’re doing this from bankruptcy court. I any the number-one threat to our country, the number-one threat to our security is debts, piling on of debt.
The debt threatens our national security, and yet we just want to pile it on, pill it on. This deal will do nothing but explode the debt. In fact, it doesn’t even limit how much the debt can go up. We’re giving the president a blank check.
We’re in the middle of a filibuster. This filibuster will go on to about 1:00 in the morning and then we will find out who the true conservatives in this town are. If you are conservative, you will say there is no way I’m going to vote to give an unlimited power to the president to borrow money. If you are a conservative, you’re going to say we shouldn’t be exceeding the budget caps. If anything, we should be passing more stringent budget caps. It disappoints me greater than I can possibly express that the party that I belong to that should be the conservative party doesn’t appear to be conservative. This is a big problem.
I’m traveling the country and I ask Republicans everywhere. I have yet to meet a single Republican who supports this deal. In the house, they voted on this yesterday. Do you know what the vote was? Two to one among Republicans to say this is a God-awful deal and we shouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. It’s a terrible deal. House Republicans understood this. We should be doing the opposite. We should be taking the leverage of saying we’re not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get reform. Instead, we went to the president and said here, raise the debt ceiling as much as you can possibly spend over the next year, and we’ll let you exceed the budget caps. It’s irresponsible, it shows a lack of concern for our country, for the debt, and it should go down in defeat.
When I ran for office in 2010, the debt was an enormous issue and the debt was $10 trillion. Some of us in the tea party were concerned because it had doubled in the last eight years. It doubled from five to ten under a Republican administration. And many of us were adamant that Republicans needed to do a better job. We had added new entitlement programs, we had added new spending, and the deficit got worse under Republicans. Now we’re under a Democrat president, and it’s set to double again.
This president will add more to the debt than all of the previous presidents combined. So we’re going to go from $10 trillion now to nearly $20 trillion. We may get close to $20 trillion. Now that we have increased the debt ceiling in an unspecified amount, we may well get to $20 trillion by the time this president leaves. Is it a problem? Some people say it’s just a big number.
Read more: paul.senate.gov
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