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

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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout 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."

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 LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill Sorry Mr. Jackson, Tubman on the is real 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 WarrenExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE (D-Mass.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Democrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill 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 Keiko HironoSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Trump lawyers center defense around attacks on Democrats 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.