On Wednesday, the House will be passing a clean funding bill for Harvey relief and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to add an increase in the debt ceiling to the bill. A source has confirmed to Big League Politics that Senator Rand Paul will be fighting the effort.
Paul will be doing two things to throw a wrench in McConnell and Paul Ryan’s plans to marry the issues.
First, Paul plans to push for an ‘America First’ amendment which would cover the $7.85 billion Harvey relief funding through foreign aid cuts. In theory, the debt ceiling will still need to be raised soon, but not in conjunction with the FEMA relief funds if the money is offset with budget cuts.
“It’s a mistake to raise the debt ceiling without having some dramatic reform to our budget process,” Paul told Politico on Tuesday. “A $20 trillion debt is really our no. 1 security risk so to just keep raising the debt I think is a huge mistake.”
The senator added that “if you are simply adding to the debt to give people money I think it’s not really appropriate,” explaining that the costs should be offset from elsewhere.
Second, the Kentucky senator will be fighting for the debt ceiling and the Harvey bill to be split so that senate will have to vote on and debate the issues separately.
With FEMA saying that they will be out of funds by Friday, pressure is on for a funding bill to be passed quickly. By attaching the two issues, senators will be forced to either pass funding with the changes to the debt ceiling or be responsible for not providing aid money to the devastated areas in time.
Obviously, the disaster relief funding on its own has overwhelming bipartisan support and would easily pass, but Paul Ryan and McConnell appear to be determined to complicate things by adding the politically charged debt ceiling legislation to an otherwise easy vote.
Multiple members of the Freedom Caucus have also made it clear that they will be forced into not backing the package if it doesn’t include meaningful fiscal reforms.