© Francis Rivera
The Senate killed an attempt by Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Rand Paul skeptical about Romney as secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) Thursday to block a sale of military aircraft to Pakistan.
Senators voted 71-24 to table the Kentucky Republican's attempt to bring the resolution to the Senate floor, effectively pigeonholing the measure and guaranteeing the sale will go forward.
Paul suggested ahead of the vote that Americans couldn't afford to be sending the jets to Pakistan, which he called a "frenemy."
"We've got a lot of things going on in our country that need to be taken care of, and we don't have enough money to be sending it to Pakistan," he said on the Senate floor. "I can't in good conscience look away as American crumbles at home and politicians tax us to send the money to corrupt and duplicitous regimes abroad."
Paul wanted to use an overlooked provision in the Arms Export Control Act to force a vote and block the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan. The move required him to give the Foreign Relations Committee 10 days to take up his resolution before he could try to bring it to the Senate floor.
But Sens. Bob CorkerBob CorkerHaley to meet with senators during Washington trip Senate: Act now to save Ukraine ExxonMobil CEO, retired admiral will meet with Trump about State: report MORE (R-Tenn.) and Ben CardinBen CardinAide: Trump invited Philippine leader to WH Dem senator: Hold hearing on Russian interference in election Overnight Finance: Questions swirl around Trump's plan for his business | Treasury pick promises major tax cut | White House downplays Carrier deal MORE (D-Md.), the committee's top members, urged lawmakers to vote against Paul's resolution, suggesting that the U.S. government can use the sale to influence Pakistan.
"It maintains our leverage with Pakistan over the long haul. That's what us selling them these pieces of equipment do," Corker said, noting that the jets will require 30 years of maintenance.
He added that despite "some of the rhetoric," Thurday's vote "has nothing to do with the potential subsidy that could take place by U.S. taxpayers."
Cardin told reporters during a roundtable Wednesday that, separately, there has been a request from the administration to move around funds to use some taxpayer money to cover the sale, but Congress hasn't made a decision yet.
"That will require our approval and we have not yet taken that up," he added, while saying that Paul's resolution would get "uniform opposition" from leadership.
Paul, however, was able to get bipartisan support for his push to stop the sale.
Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphyRepublicans tie Trump's Defense pick to funding fight Lawmakers haggle over funding bill as shutdown nears Senate Dems: Don't link Mattis nomination to funding fight MORE (D-Conn.) said Congress has "got to get back in the game" of providing oversight to arms sales, while suggesting that there are other ways to influence the sale of military equipment short of a blanket block.
"I hope that Sen. Paul and others as we start to go about doing due diligence of future sales will take a look at maybe a more meaningful contribution that this body can take rather than expressing our outright unconditional disapproval," he said.