Rand Paul Blocks $40 Billion Ukraine Package (Watch)

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul defied leaders of both parties Thursday and single-handedly delayed until next week Senate approval of an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine fight Russia.

With the Senate poised to debate and vote on the package of military and economic aid, Paul denied leaders the unanimous agreement they needed to proceed.

The legislation has been approved overwhelmingly by the House and has strong bipartisan support in the Senate. Final passage is not in doubt. “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.

Paul’s objection was a rebellion against his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who began Thursday’s session by saying senators from “both sides” — meaning Republicans and Democrats — needed to “help us pass this urgent funding bill today,” gesturing emphatically as he said “today.”

Paul, a libertarian who often opposes U.S. intervention abroad, said he wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.

Democrats and McConnell opposed Paul’s push and offered to have a vote on his language. Paul was likely to lose that vote and rejected the offer.

He argued that the added spending was a significant sum that would deepen federal deficits and worsen inflation.

“No matter how sympathetic the cause, my oath of office is to the national security of the United States of America,” Paul said. “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy.”

Democrats said they were objecting to Paul’s plan because it would expand the powers of an existing inspector general whose current purview is limited to Afghanistan. That would deny Biden the chance past presidents have had to appoint the person to the post, they said.

“It’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks, he doesn’t want to aid Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., “All he will accomplish with his actions here today is to delay that aid, not to stop it.”

Underscoring their joint desire to approve the bill immediately, Schumer and McConnell stood nearly side-by-side as they tried pushing the legislation forward.

President Donald J. Trump also recently criticized sending more money to Ukraine. He took to his new social media platform, Truth Social, writing, “Why are we giving more than $40 Billion to Ukraine while Europe, by comparison, is giving very little, and they are greatly more impacted by a Russian invasion, obviously, than the U.S. I made NATO rich by getting European Nations to “pay up.” Most were delinquent and either not paying, or paying much less than they agreed to. Get Europe, and others, to finally pay their fair share. China, and others, is smiling all the way to the bank!”

Reporting from The Associated Press via NBC News and The Hill.