Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate

Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate
© Francis Rivera

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPentagon to take bigger role in vetting foreign students after Pensacola shooting Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Rand Paul: 'We need to re-examine' US-Saudi relationship after Florida shooting 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 McConnellSherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' McConnell: Bevin pardons 'completely inappropriate' House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal 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 VitterRed-state governor races put both parties on edge Louisiana Republicans score big legislative wins Trump calls on Republicans to vote out Democratic Louisiana governor amid GOP infighting 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 InhofeLankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Gabbard calls for congressional inquiry over Afghanistan war report 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.