Paul may hold up Senate over Pakistan
By MANU RAJU and TOMER OVADIA
Freshman Sen. Rand Paul is threatening to bottle up the Senate if he doesn’t get a vote on his plan to dramatically cut foreign aid to Pakistan.
In an extraordinary step, the Republican freshman is warning that he may file a motion to shut down debate and push a vote on his proposal, a right typically granted strictly to the Senate majority leader. But Paul is angry that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to give him an up-or-down vote on the proposal, and now appears poised to use arcane Senate procedures to force a vote even if it ties up the Senate for days.
Paul’s bill would halt billions of dollars in foreign aid that the United States provides Pakistan until the country frees a doctor jailed for providing Americans information that helped lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. And it could put some of his colleagues in a tricky diplomatic spot, as they rail against government spending but also fear provoking tensions with a country whose relations with the United States have frayed.
“I have worked consistently to bring awareness to Dr. [Shakil] Afridi’s plight, and I have offered legislation to deny any current or future foreign assistance to the Pakistani government until they reverse course and free Dr. Afridi,” Paul wrote in the letter. “In pursuing a resolution to this situation, I have gained the necessary number of signatures on a cloture petition to force a vote on my legislation on the Senate floor. If Dr. Afridi is not released upon appeal, I will seek such a floor vote at the earliest opportunity.”