Senator Rand Paul puts hold on $38 billion US-Israel military aid legislation
Pro-Israel groups have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in an advertising campaign against Republic Senator Rand Paul this week over his attempts to block US security aid to Israel.
Paul says he opposes the open-ended US aid to Israel, citing the need for the existing legislation to be amended before the final version is approved by the Senate.
Paul is an outspoken critic of US foreign aid and has been one of President Donald Trump’s most significant Republican critics on foreign policy.
“While I’m not for foreign aid in general, if we are going to send aid to Israel it should be limited in time and scope so we aren’t doing it forever, and it should be paid for by cutting the aid to people who hate Israel and America,” a statement from Paul’s office said.
The Libertarian senator from Kentucky recently put a congressional hold on the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act which authorizes $38 billion in funding from the US to Israel.
A hold is a congressional procedure that allows senators to prevent a motion from reaching the floor for a vote.
The bill formally codifies into law the $38 billion defense aid package signed in 2016 between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the former’s final days in office.
Before becoming a law, a final version of the legislation as approved by the House of Representatives must pass through the Senate.
The bill already passed easily through both chambers of Congress over the summer.
Major pro-Israel groups including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Christians United for Israel have condemned Paul’s hold and have been flooding money into online ads attacking the senator.
Paul spoke out against the pro-Israeli groups such as the ones now attacking him in his remarks on the hold.
“Each time I’ve tried to stop giving aid to enemies of the U.S. and Israel, I have been thwarted. Often by groups that claim they are pro-Israel,” Paul said. “Why would supposedly pro-Israel groups oppose my legislation to end aid to the Palestinian Liberation Organization? Maybe it’s because they fear any debate on anyone’s foreign aid threatens a broader debate on whether we should be borrowing from foreign countries simply to send the money to other foreign countries.”
A hold is an informal practice that allows a senator to signal the floor leader that they do not wish a particular bill to reach the floor. The majority leader does not need to halt the legislation, but rather is simply alerted that the opposing senator may filibuster any motion to proceed.
Senator Rand Paul Commandeers Press Conference Outside Khashoggi Hearing – BLASTS Deep State
December 4, 2018
Senator Rand Paul commandeered a press conference set up outside the CIA briefing on Jamal Khashoggi after being blocked from attending.
The senator blasted the deep state for keeping him and other lawmakers in the dark.
Senator Paul was one of several senators who called for CIA Director Gina Haspel to come brief them last week. Following a senate vote to pull US support for the war in Yemen, she finally agreed to come and brief a small handful of senators. The Kentucky firebrand didn’t make the list.
The briefing, according to the New York Times, was “an attempt to mollify lawmakers who last week signaled they might not continue military support for the Saudi-backed war in Yemen without more information about the Saudi dissident’s killing.” Their main focus, per the report, was to appease Senator Lindsey Graham.
Never afraid to speak his mind, Senator Paul arrived outside the secure briefing room anyways to take over the press conference set up and tell the media that he has questions for Haspel that he should be permitted to ask — but he is being barred from doing so by the deep state.
“I’ve read in the media that the CIA has said with high confidence that the crown prince was involved with killing Khashoggi. I have not seen that intelligence nor have I even seen the conclusions. Today there is yet another briefing, and I’m being excluded from that. So really, this is the deep state at work that your representatives don’t know what’s going on in the intelligence agencies,” Paul said.
“This is the very definition of the deep state,” Senator Paul told Fox News. “The deep state is that the intelligence agencies do things, conclude things, make conclusions, but then the elected officials are prevented from knowing about this. If we aren’t told about this and I’m not allowed to know about these conclusions, then I can’t have oversight … the deep state grows and has more and more power.”
Senator Paul also blasted the deep state on Twitter earlier Tuesday morning over their secrecy.
“Do you want to know what the deep state is?” the Kentucky senator asked. “The CIA Director is coming to the US Senate and only briefing a select few members of the Senate. Why shouldn’t every senator know what is going on? The deep state wants to keep everyone in the dark. This is just ridiculous!”
The incident lead to a Twitter battle between Senator Paul’s Deputy Chief of Staff and CNN analyst Susan Hennessey — who accused the senator of “doing his ordinary BS grandstanding routine.”
Gor responded by asking how Hennessey is a CNN analyst and calling their raising of a red flag about the CIA excluding 90% of senators from a briefing “bs.”
REPUBLICANS AFTER BRIEFING WITH CIA CHIEF: YEAH, SAUDI CROWN PRINCE DEFINITELY HAD JAMAL KHASHOGGI KILLED
December 5, 2018
SOURCE: COMMON DREAMS
Reasonable observers and analysts concluded weeks ago that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome killing of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
Though it took them far longer than most, a small group of Republicans finally fell in line with this widespread consensus after a secretive briefing by CIA chief Gina Haspel on Tuesday, admitting that all the available evidence suggests MBS orchestrated the murder that has sparked international outrage and brought America’s longstanding military relationship with the brutal kingdom under sharp scrutiny.
“There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the behind-closed-doors briefing. “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.”
Graham went on to say he will not support U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia until all who are responsible for Khashoggi’s murder are “brought to justice.”
As Common Dreams reported, the Senate last week advanced Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi kingdom’s assault on Yemen. Graham voted in favor of the resolution.
Echoing his GOP colleague following the CIA briefing, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “All evidence points to that, that all this leads back to the crown prince.”
These long-overdue statements place Shelby and Graham firmly at odds with President Donald Trump, who issued a bizarre and “dangerous” statement last month claiming that it may be impossible to know who is ultimately responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and vowing to continue selling weapons to the kingdom.