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Rand Paul eyes debt-ceiling fight in Audit the Fed push

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Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulBrexit leader Farage pushing US-UK trade deal to Trump Senate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk GOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency MORE (R-Ky.) is mulling attaching his Audit the Fed legislation to a vote to raise the debt ceiling, Paul spokesman Brian Darling told The Hill.

Darling said that Paul, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, fully expects to get a vote on the measure in the Senate this year and that "there are numerous options to get a bill passed by itself or combined with other legislation."

"The strategy going forward will be to use regular order," Darling told The Hill. "If regular order does not work, Audit the Fed would be a great amendment to a debt-limit increase or any other piece of must pass legislation that hits the Senate floor."

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The move is a clear signal of how serious Paul is about getting a vote on the legislation that has garnered political blowback from top Fed officials. The proposal allows for increased congressional oversight at the central bank.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen and other top Fed officials have maintained for years that the bill would undermine the central bank's independence and politicize its actions.

The Treasury Department will reach its borrowing limit — or hit the "debt ceiling” — around March 15. Most experts predict that Treasury Secretary Jack LewJack LewOvernight Finance: House GOP plans short-term spending bill | Senate Republicans not happy | Yellen intends to finish term Lew: Don't paint Wall Street execs with 'broad brushstroke' Dumping Obama’s faux foreign tax legislation should be high on Trump's to-do list MORE will be able to use a series of "extraordinary measures" to keep financing the government until summer or early fall.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has introduced Audit the Fed legislation in the House, where it is expected to easily pass.

It's unclear whether the measure would be able to survive in the new-GOP controlled Senate, as Paul would need to pick up Democratic support to overcome a filibuster.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPressure grows on Perez to enter DNC race The Hill's 12:30 Report AFL-CIO endorses Ellison for DNC chair MORE (D-Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSenate Democrats dig in as shutdown approaches Overnight Energy: Fight over miners' benefits risks shutdown | Flint aid crosses finish line in House Overnight Finance: Senate Dems dig in as shutdown looms | Trump taps fast-food exec for Labor chief | Portland's new CEO tax MORE (D-Ohio) — each viewed as top progressives on the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction on the bill — have come out against the bill.

Paul's bill has 31 co-sponsors, with just one Democrat: Sen. Mazie HironoMazie HironoBudowsky: Did Putin elect Trump? This Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails MORE (Hawaii).

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has said that he will have a hearing on Audit the Fed.

Paul held a rally on the issue in Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this month and he has fundraised on it, too. Paul's father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), was an early supporter of the legislation.