Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate

Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate
© Francis Rivera

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWe're all on the tarmac, waiting for an Iran policy This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Washington braces for Trump's next move on Iran MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday said he’s blocking quick consideration of the Senate’s chemical safety overhaul bill because he hasn’t had time to read it.

Paul said the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is a big, consequential bill, and he deserves the time to read and understand it before he votes.

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The bill has widespread bipartisan support. It passed the House on Tuesday with only 12 members opposing.

Paul’s action doesn’t doom the bill, but the Senate now has to wait at least two weeks to go through the procedure to consider the bill without his consent, because the chamber is in recess next week.

 

Republican leaders had hoped to hold a vote on the chemical legislation Thursday, but needed unanimous consent to do so.

“One of the pledges I made to the people of Kentucky when I came here was that I would read the bills,” Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday.

“This bill came here on Tuesday. It's 180 pages long. It involves new criminalization, new crimes that will be created at the federal level. It includes preemption of states,” the former presidential candidate added.

“And so I think it deserves to be read, to be understood and to be debated, and so I object to just rushing this through and saying ‘Oh, you can't read the bill.’ ”

As long as Paul keeps his objection in place, Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-Ky.) cannot have the unanimous consent he needs to allow a vote on the bill Thursday.

It’s unclear whether Paul’s objection is the only one holding up quick consideration of the legislation.

The bill would update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act and give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sweeping new powers to order the testing of and limit the sales of harmful chemicals.

Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterLobbying World Senate confirms Trump judge who faced scrutiny over abortion views Collins votes against Trump judicial pick MORE (R-La.), a lead author of the bill, criticized Paul for his objection.

“I regret an objection to this very reasonable path forward,” Vitter said after Paul spoke.

“No one objects to all members of the senate reading the bill. I encourage all members of the senate to read the bill,” he continued.

“The final version of the bill has been publicly available for everyone to read, dissect and digest for about a week. It is largely similar to the Senate version that passed months ago to which there was no objection raised.”

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions This week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, also criticized Paul.

“We know it’s going to pass. That’s not the issue,” he said. “It’s just that if we could do it now instead of two weeks from now.”

— Updated at 2:32 p.m.