Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked a Democratic attempt Wednesday to have the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund extended, immediately drawing the ire of comedian Jon Stewart who called the move “an abomination.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tried to obtain the chamber’s consent to approve the bill which had previously passed the House in a 402-12 vote and which would provide funding until fiscal 2090.
However, Paul opposed the attempt, saying that the U.S. is facing an increasingly growing national debt and could not afford any additional spending that would have to be offset by cuts to other spending.
“It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country. And therefore any new spending … should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to, at the very least, have this debate,” he said, according to The Hill.
Paul then noted that he would offer an amendment to the bill should it be brought up for a vote in the Senate, “but until then I will object.” Paul’s spokesperson said that the senator was not “blocking anything” but simply believes that it should be paid for.
“As with any bill, Senator Paul always believes it needs to be paid for. Senator Paul is simply offering an amendment, which other senators support, to pay for this legislation,” an emailed statement by the spokesperson read.
Senate rules allow any senator to seek consent and any senator to block such an attempt to pass a bill or resolution.
Gillibrand later voiced her disappointment in her Republican colleague’s move, saying “Enough of the political games.”
“I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders,” she pointed out.
However, the bill is very likely to be brought up for a vote and get passed before the Senate leaves for summer recess.
“We want to try to deal with [the legislation] before the August recess,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Meanwhile, Stewart called Paul’s reasoning against the bill “outrageous” considering his support of President Donald Trump’s massive tax cuts that “added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit.”
“It’s absolutely outrageous. Pardon me if I’m not impressed in any way by Rand Paul’s fiscal responsibility virtue signaling,” he said on Fox News, appearing alongside 9/11 first responder John Feal.
“Now he stands up at the last minute, after 15 years of blood sweat and tears from the 9/11 community to say that it’s all over now. Now we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community,” Stewart added.