Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is pledging to block all Senate business this week until the chamber starts debating the debt ceiling. In an interview that aired Sunday on C-Span, the freshman senator vowed to filibuster everything until the partisan gridlock over raising the debt limit is resolved:
PAUL: We’re tired of talking about extraneous issues. We’ve had not one minute of debate about the debt ceiling in any committee. […] So I’m part of the freshman group in the Senate that’s saying, ‘no more.’ We’re not going to let them go to any issue if we have a say in it. We will filibuster until we talk about the debt ceiling, until we talk about proposals, and many of us in the conservative wing are going to present our own proposal next week. And that is to raise the debt ceiling. We will actually vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling next week if we can but it will be contingent upon passing a balanced budget amendment.
Paul’s determination to bring Senate action to a stand-still ironically coincides with new reports that this Congress has been the least productive in modern history “as measured by votes taken, bills made into laws, nominees approved.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the 112th Congress “is underperforming even the ‘do-nothing Congress’ of 1948, as Harry Truman dubbed it.”
The Huffington Post notes that Paul’s plan “picks up where Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) one-man filibuster attempt last Tuesday left off. Johnson declared that as long as the debt ceiling negotiations are held behind closed doors, he would block all unanimous consent calls, effectively putting a stop on Senate business.” Johnson’s grandstanding lasted all of two hours before a procedural motion shut him down.
The balanced budget amendment is such a far-fetched and ill-advised idea that even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposes tying it to negotiations to raise the nation’s debt limit.
Paul’s ploy to advance an ideological agenda is further evidence that far from being the party of responsible adults, Republicans are acting more like petulant toddlers who readily throw temper tantrums to try to get what they want.