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Rand Paul blocks Senate from approving 9/11 victim compensation fund

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. 

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandInternal Democratic poll: Desiree Tims gains on Mike Turner in Ohio House race Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter's handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech's liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize MORE (D-N.Y.) tried to win the Senate's consent to approve the House-passed bill, which would reauthorize funding until fiscal 2090. The bill cleared the House in a 402-12 vote last week. 

But Paul objected, pointing to the country's growing debt and arguing that any new spending should be offset by cuts to other spending.

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"It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country," he said. "And therefore any new spending …  should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable. We need to, at the very least, have this debate."

He added that if the House bill was brought up for a vote in the Senate he is planning to offer an amendment, "but until then I will object." 

A spokesperson for Paul later told The Hill that Paul "is not blocking anything," adding that he is "simply seeking to pay for it."

"As with any bill, Senator Paul always believes it needs to be paid for. Senator Paul is simply offering an amendment, which other senators support, to pay for this legislation,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Under Senate rules, any one senator can try to get consent, which requires the sign-off of the entire chamber, to pass a bill or resolution, but any one senator can also block that request. 

Gillibrand, after Paul objected, said she was "deeply disappointed" in his decision, adding, "Enough of the political games." 

"I am deeply disappointed that my colleague has just objected to the desperately needed and urgent bill for our 9/11 first responders," she added.

Despite the back-and-forth on the floor, the Senate is expected to pass the bill before leaving for their summer recess by Aug. 2. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (R-Ky.) fast-tracked the House bill to the Senate calendar this week, paving the way for him to tee it up for a vote. 

McConnell said after a meeting with 9/11 first responders that it was his plan to bring the bill up before the recess. 

“We want to try to deal with [the legislation] before the August recess,” he said.

--Updated at 3:23 p.m.