Paul: Shutting down government not my goal

Paul: Shutting down government not my goal
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program Trump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (R-Ky.) emphasized Thursday night that he is not intent on shutting down the government as lawmakers face a Friday night funding deadline.

During an appearance on Fox News, Paul stopped short of saying whether he would let leadership speed up a mammoth government funding bill allowing Congress to avoid the third shutdown of the year.

"It's never been my goal to shut down government," Paul told Fox News's Tucker Carlson during an interview when asked if he would slow-walk the more than 2,000-page bill.

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Paul acknowledged that the omnibus funding bill has the votes to pass in the Senate, describing himself as in the "minority."

Paul's Fox News appearance comes after his latest tweet also hinted that he could let the Senate vote before the deadline.

"If they insist on voting, I will vote no because it spends to much and there’s just too little time to read the bill and let everyone know what’s actually in it," he said.

Paul's office later reportedly said that the Kentucky senator was open to a compromise of some kind and was awaiting a call from leadership.

Congress has until Friday night at midnight to pass legislation to prevent a partial closure of the federal government. The House passed the bill earlier Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms Court-packing becomes new litmus test on left MORE (R-Ky.) filed cloture on the bill earlier Thursday as lawmakers braced for the possibility of a long weekend.

Unless every senator agrees to speed up consideration of the bill, under chamber rules the earliest the Senate could hold an initial vote is 1 a.m. Saturday — an hour past the deadline.

Paul forced a brief shutdown last month after leadership refused to give him a vote on an amendment cutting government spending. In both cases, leadership failed to give themselves enough time to clear the chamber's procedural hurdles.

But the libertarian-minded senator has largely kept his colleagues in the dark about his plans this time around, focusing instead on tweeting out his progress in reading the funding legislation.

The $1.3 trillion bill would fund the government through the end of September.

Paul took a shot at his colleagues on Thursday, saying the bill could have been written by President Obama and both parties have an "unholy alliance." 

Updated: 9:30 p.m.