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Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and fellow Republicans walked out of a tense meeting of the Homeland Security Committee during the markup of the Fire Grants and Safety Act following an exchange with the panel’s chairman, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).
Paul expressed his frustration with Peters using secondary amendments to essentially nullify his amendments to the bill that reauthorizes the U.S. Fire Administration, the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) Grants Program, and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program.
The Kentucky Republican, who became the ranking member after moderate Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) retired last year, blasted Peters, stating, “This is the first time we’ve had a hearing since I’ve been here that I know of that we’ve gotten second degree amendments on every one of our amendments.”
Peters utilized additional amendments to counter those presented by Paul, including one amendment that would have rendered fire departments ineligible for federal grants if they terminated employees for not receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, Mediaite reported.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Paul protested at one point as Peters continued to undermine his amendments. “This is legislative legerdemain to obscure the fact that you’re trying to not vote directly on this.”
“If this is the way you’re going to run the committee, I would suggest that Republicans leave. I don’t see why we should stick around if you’re going to make up the rules,” Paul railed at one point.
Watch Dems stymie my amendment to forbid grants to fire departments that fired the unvaxxed. pic.twitter.com/2e0Kg1lk77
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) March 16, 2023
That led Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) to intervene. “We all take a couple minutes, lower the temperature, just figure out the procedure,” she said, adding: “There’s no need for us to turn this committee hearing into a partisan, ugly place like we’ve seen in other committees.”
In the end, Paul did leave the meeting while GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and James Lankford of Oklahoma remained and voted against Peters’ amendments. But they passed anyway, and the bill was voted out of committee.
The Hill noted that “the acrimonious scene was a departure from how the Homeland Security Committee operated in 2021 and 2022 when Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) served as the panel’s ranking member. In the recent past, Democrats on the committee have sometimes sat on the Republican side of the dais and vice versa to promote a sense bipartisan camaraderie.”
Later, Peters told reporters: “I look forward to working with Sen. Paul and hopefully we can find common ground to go forward. Some of the amendments he offered were not germane to the substance of the bill that we were dealing with.”
In December, Paul issued a brutal statement to retiring Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s lead immunologist, after he declared that he had no regrets about how he handled the pandemic.
“Likely there is no public figure, or public health figure, that has made a greater error in judgment than Dr. Fauci. The error in judgment was to fund gain-of-function research in a totalitarian country — fund research that allowed them to create super viruses that, in all likelihood, accidentally leaked into the public and caused seven million people to die,” said Paul, who frequently clashed with Fauci during Senate oversight hearings into Fauci’s responses and recommendations regarding the pandemic.
“Think about it. This is right up there with decisions, some of them malevolent or military, to kill millions of people,” Paul said. “This is accidental, but it goes to judgment.”
“Talk about errors. You think he might apologize to the world for funding research that allowed superviruses to be created in a lab – a lab that was not properly outfitted for safety, that people were already reporting was dangerous – to support that kind of research, and then to look the other way and say, ‘Nothing to see here,’ and to cover it up,” Paul noted.
“For the last two years, he’s been covering his tracks, but we’ve caught him red-handed, and he won’t get away,” the GOP senator added.