Paul threatens to block defense bill amendments

Paul threatens to block defense bill amendments
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) is threatening to block all amendments to the annual defense policy bill if he does not get a vote on his amendment repealing two war authorizations.

Paul told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he’s hopeful his amendment will get a vote.

But asked if he will object to every other amendment being taken up if his does not get a vote, Paul told reporters, “Yes.”

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Paul's amendment would repeal the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2002 AUMF passed to green-light the Iraq War.

The authorizations would be repealed six months after the amendment passes, with the hope being that would force Congress to vote on a new authorization before then.

Lawmakers from both parties for years have been trying to get a vote on a new AUMF, arguing the old ones are outdated and do not apply to today’s fights against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other terrorist groups.

But deep division on issues such as whether the new AUMF should sunset or allow for ground troops have meant previous efforts have stalled out.

Paul has already held up consideration of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) twice over the issue.

Senators tried to bring the NDAA to floor in late July before Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) left for chemotherapy for brain cancer, but Paul blocked that from happening.

On Monday night, after the NDAA cleared an initial procedural hurdle, Paul threatened to prevent the Senate from cutting short the required 30 hours before the chamber can formally move to debate the bill.

Paul eventually struck a deal to get four hours Tuesday to discuss his amendment on the floor.

Asked Tuesday how negotiations were going on Paul’s amendment, as well as taking up other amendments, McCain said he's spoken with Paul and that there’s been progress. 

“We’re having serious negotiations, and we’ve made some progress,” he said.

More than 300 amendments have been filed on the NDAA. Among those that have been filed are ones to block President Trump's ban on transgender troops and one to allow for a new round of base closures.

Updated at 4:42 p.m.