Rand Paul Almost Killed a Senate Rebuke of Russia. Here’s Why That Matters
This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up HereSubscribe to receive stories similar to this in your inbox
Over the course of months, Senators from both parties had been discussing their ideas in private, as they believed that there would be an agreement on a united response to Russia invading Ukraine. Because of their solidarity with America, the West has pulled the globe through post-World War II and has maintained relative peace over the past few years. Ghosts of Ike, JFKAnd even more Ronnie weren’t that far gone.
But with war drums echoing in Kyiv, Moscow and Washington alike by mid-February—not to mention in NATO Headquarters in Brussels—the pressure had begun to Seem insurmountable. NATO seems insurmountable with as many as 190,00 Russian troops poised to take over Ukraine. Incapablesenior Ukrainians are already defending non-member states against aggression which the alliance was designed to counter. fleeingCountry, tendencyFor InertiaD.C., took control As the result, good-faith negotiations collapsed in D.C. Republicans DemocratsIt seemed like everything was falling apart especially in the area of the ObjectiveWhat was the purpose of legislation to sanction or deter Russians? To Yes is difficult if you don’t see eye to eye on the original question. If comic books teach us anything, it’s that the origin The story is everything.
The end was? In the end? Rebuke.
“We believe that it should say, ‘Nothing in this resolution is to be construed as an authorization for war,’ and ‘Nothing in this resolution is to be construed as authorizing [the] introduction of troops into Ukraine,’” Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, .
Facing the reality that sanctions require 60 votes to clear the Senate and both sides are divided over whether to impose sanctions now or to hold some back to make an invasion a more painful choice, the leadership in both parties came to agreement: they’d prepare and fast-track a bipartisan—and non-binding—resolution Express yourself the Senate’s condemnation of a Russian expansion over its borders with Ukraine. This would only be symbolic, but it’s better than nothing.
Only that they needed a united Senate in order to accelerate the effort. One objection could spark hours of discussion. It seemed that Thursday was the last day of unity. Potential It was confirmed by a late night vote. Paul, perhaps the most vocal Republican Party non-interventionist of all, threatened derailing the non binding resolution unless it was made clear that the document wasn’t going to be used for a declaration or commitment to send U.S. forces to fight the Russians. This move frustrated lawmakers who had been struggling to keep the government open for at least three weeks more.
“How would you like to have this headline in Moscow? ‘The U.S. government can’t even stay open. Why are they lecturing us about an invasion of Ukraine?’” said an exasperated Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Paul was able to get his way on Thursday night. He won concessions—however immaterial—that allowed him to claim that he averted the current threat of war with Ukraine. The entire Senate was able to leave Washington after Paul caved and passed the measure with some of his modifications. Financed the government for a few more days and sent an opaque signal to Moscow that the D.C. power structure isn’t happy with the posturing it’s seeing from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 1950s-era understanding of geopolitics.
The senators were already tired of funding government. They also prepared for another fight within two weeks regarding a large spending plan. Once again, colleagues had humored Paul’s eccentricities. Paul’s stunt was valuable for the far-right community he represents. For Paul’s fans, it not only was a way to symbolically check any Joe Biden-led military intervention abroad, but also a nod to Donald Trump’s non-interventionist stance. And, given Democrats are on a razor’s edge this fall to hold their majority, even the long-shot Democratic challenger to Paul’s re-election by Charles Booker is worth a beat to consider.
This is how it goes: Democrats have a polenta soft ground, as they protect their majority. Republicans also think they are invincible in their electoral advantage. Everyone felt burned this week after a long-running fight about sanctions against Russia.
Washington: Make sense of the important things Register for D.C. Brief Newsletter