OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 9:53 AM PT – Thursday, March 16, 2023
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stormed out of the Homeland Security Committee hearing, and suggested every Republican leave the meeting as well on Wednesday.
During the hearing, Paul butted heads with Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) who serves as Chair on the committee, after Peters blocked each Republican amendment to the Fire Grants and Safety Act.
“We have what, unlimited second-degree amendments?” Paul said.
Peters then proceeded to tell Paul that he does not have jurisdiction to call an amendment up for a vote.
“You can’t call it up, senator, only the chair,” Peters said. “You weren’t recognized to call it for a vote. Only the chairman can do that. The chair can call up the amendments as the chair sees fit.”
“If this is the way you’re going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave,” the Republican Senator replied. “I don’t see why we should stick around if you’re going to make up the rules. I mean you’re going to offer up a third-degree amendment.”
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) tried to calm the situation by suggesting for everyone to “take a couple minutes, lower the temperature, just figure out the procedure.”
“I, for one, won’t stay here and recommend that no Republican stay here if we’re going to have third-degree amendments that only the majority gets to offer,” Paul said, continuing to argue against Peters’ efforts.
During the hearing, the Republican Senator’s frustration rose after he had introduced several amendments to the bill, only to have Peters block each with secondary amendments which rendered the Republican’s amendments useless.
Paul had offered an amendment to withhold federal grants from fire department who had terminated firefighters for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, or speaking against the mandate. However, the fire departments would regain those funds if they reinstated those individuals with backpay.
Peters combated the amendment by including language that would require the U.S. comptroller to conduct audits and reports on the departments.
The Republican then offered an amendment to block any National Institutes of Health funding for being directed to China for “gain of function” research on coronavirus in Wuhan and other facilities.
Peters then included language to prohibit money from Fire Grants and Safety Act “from being provided to a Chinese fire department.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Paul complained as frustration boiled over. “This is legislative legerdemain to obscure the fact that you’re trying to not vote directly on this.”
Paul stated that this was the first time that “we’ve gotten second-degree amendments on every one of our amendments.”
Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) decided to stay in the room after Paul left to vote against amendments modified by the Democrats.
“Typically in that committee, we just have votes,” Lankford said. “When we can’t work it out behind the scenes, we have a vote and not replace someone’s vote. We got to actually take votes.”
After the hearing, Peters said he looks forward to working with Paul and hopes to find common ground moving forward.
“I look forward to working with Sen. Paul and hopefully we can find common ground to go forward,” he said. “Some of the amendments he offered were not germane to the substance of the bill that we were dealing with.”
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